With all grades except kindergarten through second grade currently in distance learning, the Perham-Dent Public School District is providing child care for families of children in grades three through six who have been deemed as essential workers.

Prairie Wind Middle School’s Intervention Specialist James Mulcahy updated the Perham-Dent School Board on the structure of the school’s current child care situation at the school board meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 9.

Mulcahy said child care is housed in the middle school has seen between 26 and 38 students with students in the third grade making up the highest proportion of the students in care.

A survey conducted by the school showed that when the school provided this essential child care in the spring during distance learning, parents were happy with the care but would like for their children to receive instructional time while at care. For many families, they would be spending an additional three hours after picking up their children from care on school work earache evening.

To provide the much needed instructional time during the school provided childcare the days have been structured into 15-minute blocks. Mulcahy said under the supervision of school paras and some teachers, the students in care are receiving instructional time in their assigned classwork.

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Heart of the Lakes Elementary’s Dean of Students Mike Kunza said when kindergarten through second grade is in distance learning after the winter break from Jan. 4 till Jan. 18, structured child care similar to that provided for grades third through sixth will take place.

Currently, 70 families of kindergarten through second grade students have expressed interest in child care during full distance learning. The child care program is expecting 30-45 students in kindergarten through second-grade.

Other business discussed by the school board:

  • Total enrollment for the district as of Dec. 8 was at 1,490 students, which is a decrease for the district from the start of the 2020-21 school year when enrollment was at 1,549 students.

  • The district is working on the Jacket Academy program, currently being used in distance learning, to be a sustainable online schooling option moving forward after the pandemic. The purpose of having a viable online academy is to help maintain future enrollment of students, especially in grades seven through 12 who seek to open enroll in online schools.

  • The board approved the draft of the Audited Financial Statement for the Year Ended June 30, which was conducted by the Brady Martz accounting firm. The audit will be approved pending its finalization.

  • The total tax levy of $5,986,195.40 was approved by the school board for the 2021-22 budget year at the Truth in Taxation meeting.

  • The next school board meeting will be held via teleconference on Jan. 13.