The Solon Springs School District will soon be offering a day care option for the community.
The new school-run day care, Eagles Nest Academy, is expected to open Dec. 1 in the former Presbyterian Church building at 9243 Evergreen Ave. The school board signed a 2-year lease for the space with Solon Springs Forward, the nonprofit organization that owns the building, at its Monday, Sept. 20, meeting.
The district will pay $1,000 per month for the site and all utilities except for sewer, according to district administrator Frank Helquist. The lease gives both parties the option for termination with 60 days advance notice.
Solon Springs Forward will add a second bathroom to the building and do other renovation work prior to opening the day care center, which is less than one-and-a-half miles from the school.
The school board hired a day care director, Alana Hill, in July. Additional job postings are possible, Helquist said. District leaders are currently seeking input from parents who are interested in using the day care to judge staffing needs.\
Eagles Nest will accept children from birth to age 3 and offer paid wrap-around care for older children in the district, who could be transported by bus to and from the building. Tentative hours are 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., depending on input from families interested in using the program. The Solon Springs School District already offers a separate after-school program four days a week at no cost, according to Helquist.
Board members and administrators started discussing the option of providing child care about a year ago due to an urgent local need, according to Helquist.
“To our knowledge, there are no currently licensed day cares (in Solon Springs),” he said.
Other local schools that offer school-run child care include Washburn and Chetek. A facilities team toured the Washburn facility while researching the program's feasibility.
Over the years, Helquist said, schools have begun to provide more and more services, from mandatory kindergarten to full-day kindergarten and 4K programming.
“It’s really to help out our families, because we have a lot of people who are tied, businesswise, employment-wise, to the Duluth-Superior economy,” Helquist said. “And to have a place where they can drop off their kids early in the morning, going to work and picking them up after school, that’s real important for them. That’s one of the first questions you get asked: ‘Is there day care in the area?’”
It would meet the needs of children and the community, he said.
“We’re truly a community school, so you have to adjust to what your community needs are. It’s not unusual to have day cares in schools. It’s an ever-increasing situation. It meets the needs of kids; they’re safer in school, we believe,” Helquist said.
Parents interested in utilizing the new child care option are being sought. Anyone interested can call 715-378-2263 and ask for Alana Hill.