There's an idea floating through the halls of Newton High School that could help with the drop out rate, one that will take a significant commitment from the school to make happen.
Melinda Rangel is working towards the possibility of the school hosting a day care to care for the children of students.
“A lot of the students that are in (virtual and alternative) programs are in those programs because of childcare issues,” Rangel said. “We are trying to help to keep those kids in school. …. The optimist in me wants this in August, I want to start the school year with it. Is that realistic? I do not know. ”
There are significant questions to be answered before a program launch — like location, and who will provide services.
The idea of a day care within a high school is not something new — the Christian Science Monitor was reporting on the creation of day cares within high school buildings in 1982.
The Wichita school district maintains day care facilities in high schools, working with the Greater Wichita YMCA to provide services. Rangel and those working on the concept for Newton High School visited some of those places to look at how those day care facilities worked.
According to teenpregnancystatistics.com, nearly 1 million teens have babies every year, and of these almost 7 out of 10 will drop out of school before completing high school. Less than 2 percent of teen moms go on to get a college degree. Eighty percent of women who have babies when they are teens spend at least part of their life dependent on welfare, and they have serious disadvantages in achieving financial success and independence in life, largely due to their lack of education.
The idea of a day care at Newton High School has been approved by the Harvey County Health Department. Service for NHS students will be free to students as long as they fill out the proper paperwork through The Department for Children and Families. However, while the Newton YMCA is a part of the Greater Wichita YMCA, there has not been a discussion with them about helping provide services at NHS.
“I have to move two trains at the same time,” Rangel said. “I have find a space, and see if the YMCA would be on board. I can't really do anyting with the YMCA until we have a space.”
Rangel said the end goal, if successful, is to have a day care on the campus of Newton High School. However, to date, that has not been something that will be accomplished soon. For one, there is a pending bond issue on the table. With the possibility of major renovations — which do not include a day care — on the horizon, the district is not interested in moving forward with renovations that would create a day care within the school.
Rangel has explored the use of modular units, but where those would be located and how a future bond issue would affect them has provided a stumbling block. Rangle told The Kansan she has explored an option on the south side of Newton where there could be a pair of classrooms for use.
“t is not ideal, it is off our campus, but it would be a solution for us for a couple years until we know if a bond is going to pass and the renovations are done — or if it does not, a space that we could use to get started,” Rangel said. “... We have nothing. We are in search of space.”
However, at least one part of the program will be off the ground and running when school begins for the 201718 school year — an educational component for Newton High School students.
Approval has been granted through the career pathways program.
“It is called Early Childhood Development. Courses will be taught for that this year. … We want this to be not only a day care, but there to be an educational component as well,” Rangel said. “We want to educate them on parenting and all that goes into raising a child. … A lot of students may not have the support at home to help them through this, and if we can get them that, the community benefits and we do as well. It helps them become a productive member of our community.”