There's a huge need for after-school childcare at Menlo Park City schools, and the district is going to do something about it, school board members said on Tuesday, Feb. 5.
District officials have approached the city of Menlo Park about collaborating on an on-site childcare program at Laurel, one of the district's three elementary schools.
The district doesn't currently offer licensed after-school childcare on any of its campuses. While the Menlo Children's Center runs after-school programs at Burgess Park, it accommodates a little more than 100 children, and there is a huge waiting list.
"Years ago, (after-school care) was a low priority for parents and it clearly is not a low priority anymore," said board member Deborah Fitz. "I think we ought to try very hard to do something about it."
Upcoming construction projects at Oak Knoll and Encinal schools make offering child care infeasible at those campuses for the next three years, said Superintendent Ken Ranella. However, there is space available at Laurel school, and if the city teams up with the school district, state grant money could be available to help pay for building a child care facility, he said.
Mr. Ranella has approached Menlo Park City Manager Glen Rojas about the idea, said Assistant City Manager Audrey Ramberg. Mr. Rojas is out of town, and unavailable for comment until Monday, she said. It would be up to the City Council to decide whether to pursue opening a new child care facility at Laurel school, Ms. Ramberg said.
School board members said such a program would have to be open to all families in the district, including Atherton and county residents