TRUMAN - A new daycare center is in the works in Martin County. Its proprietor: Truman Public Schools.
The district has been mulling the idea for a while, finally giving the project the go-ahead Monday when it approved advertising for a child care center director.
According to Britta Hartman, a school board member on the child care committee and a former daycare provider, the center is not quite ready to enroll children, but could be ready to sign up school-aged children by the start of school, on Sept. 4.
Some construction issues are being dealt with - including a bathroom remodeling and classroom renovations - needed to bring the area up to child care specifications.
District Superintendent Tom Ames says the classrooms will be ready by mid-August.
The district hopes the childcare center will encourage families to come to the school and keep their kids enrolled as they get older, helping to shrink an achievement gap seen in students entering kindergarten.
"If we can provide a quality preschool to all levels of kids, we can increase their chances of success," Ames said. "It isn't just for the convenience of the parents. The achievement gap that they come into kindergarten with is very difficult to overcome. I think we are doing a really important thing for kids in addition to making this a more family-friendly town."
Ames said the achievement gap often shows up in the form of vocabulary.
"If a student comes into kindergarten knowing 6,000 words," Ames said, "and another student comes in only knowing 2,500 words, the student knowing 2,500 words is going to struggle to know what the teacher is saying."
Details are still being nailed down - such as ordering cribs and sleeping cots, procuring toys and considering outdoor play equipment - as well as determining rates for services.
Hartman said the licensure application to the Minnesota Department of Human Services will be submitted later this week and its approval will determine when the school can begin accepting infants and toddlers into its daycare. The district is applying for approval to care for five infants.
Hartman said preschool and school-aged childcare doesn't need the same licensure because of the building already being a school.