By J.W. Schnarr
With two schools in the hunt for gym space, a local after school program could find itself out in the cold.
During their regular meeting on March 31, Horizon School Division board of trustees made the decision not to renew a contract with Kid Zone Child Care for after school use of the Central School gym during school months due to a pressing need from other HSD schools.
Ward 4 Trustee Derek Baron said with upcoming modernization construction, Barnwell School is set to lose their gym. The plan since the beginning of their modernization plans was for those Barnwell students to use the Central School gym in Taber. Additionally, Taber Mennonite School has also been discussing the opportunity to make use of the gym at Central School, and this has caused a conflict.
Kid Zone’s Charlotte Horvath said the organization has been forced to seek alternative rental space for their program. Forty-eight children currently take part in Kid Zone, with more than half subsidized through the provincial government. Horvath said transportation could prove to be a major issue for any new venue as many of those registered children are bus students.
“This has left us in quite a predicament,” she said.
Horvath said the organization is also concerned with the possibility that moving to a new space could result in a fee hike for parents. She said she was disappointed in the decision by the board.
School Superintendent Wilco Tymensen said over the past number of years the Kid Zone Child Care Program had been contracting the space to provide an after-school program. With the contract coming up for renewal at the end of the year, however, council has decided not to renew so that the division schools in need may make use of the gym.
Currently, the program operates at the school during the school year and at the Knox United Church through the summer.
Horvath said Kid Zone helps many families in need of child care. She said parents often ask about an appropriate age for children to be left at home unattended, and added the Alberta government will subsidize children up to the age of 12 and special needs children to the age of 14.
“We feel children should probably be in childcare until that age,” she said. “Some are more responsible at a young age, but at what point do you want to take that chance? It’s all fine and dandy until there is an accident at home.”
“We feel we provide the community with a place for their children to go.”
Additionally, Horvath said the program is valuable as it provides a place for children to be physically active, express themselves through creative projects, and be around their friends.
“It’s a place where they can be themselves and do some fun activities where it’s safe,” she said.
Kid Zone has been in operation since 2003, and has made use of the Central School gym since 2003. In 2008, the program began operating a summer program. Three years ago, the division requested Kid Zone find another space during the summer months over what Horvath described as a “maintenance issue.”
She said there are still discussions to be had with the division in regards to this issue, as word of the decision was handed down on Good Friday.
“We are looking, we just don’t know where we’re going to end up yet,” she said.