NRC taking over Latchkey operations

Chad Frey
The Kansan

A change is coming to the Latchkey program in Newton schools — namely that operations will be taken under the wings of the Newton Recreation Commission. Newton USD 373 will continue to provide facilities and other considerations.

Last summer one of the highlights of the Latchkey program was a visit from Newton Fire/EMS to the all-day summer program. A change is coming to the Latchkey program in Newton schools — namely that operations will be taken under the wings of the Newton Recreation Commission.

"We have already been doing a program that is similar to Latchkey with our Discovery Camp.  We will now just continue to offer the same type of program using the school district facilities," said Brian Bascue, superintendent of the Newton Recreation Commission.

The Latchkey Program will become a NRC program and the NRC will collect all fees to offset the program costs not outlined in this agreement. All Latchkey staff will be considered NRC staff.

While the program will not initially add staff, this move does represent additional staff for the Newton Recreation Commission which will now operate the program.

"One advantage for the district is that we will not have to be concerned with staffing issues associated with this important service for parents," said Fred Van Ranken, superintendent of Newton USD 373. "This includes payroll, hiring, etcetera. The past year or so we have had to supplement this program from the district level, which now we obviously will not have to do. It has not been a lot but with the current fiscal picture, any little bit will be of help."

Currently the program is operated by the school district, in four elementary school buildings. Northridge, Slate Creek, South Breeze and Sunset.

Parents pay a $10 enrollment fee, in addition to daily fees between $5.50 and $13, depeneding on how much time a child spends in the program. Latchkey is offered from 6:30 a.m. to school start and from 3:10 to 6 p.m. after school on school days.

The all-day program operates on inservice and non school days, along the summer. Enrollment is a $10 fee or $20 family fee, with full day fees of $27 per day or $110 per week. Summer field trip s are also offered.

Latchkey offers a variety of activities:  gym games, homework time, reading, board games, crafts and free time.

The school district approached the rec commission in August about the possibility of an operating agreement — a key staffing change led to the district looking for a new solution to operations.

"The departure of our director this year, just prior to school, presented this opportunity," Van Ranken said. "We beleived it was important we explore it, as it was suggested previously when a similar opportunity arose a few years ago. ... We discussed this with both the YMCA and Newton Recreation Commission. The Recreation Commission was the one that expressed an interest in taking this over, for which we are thankful."

Under the agreement, the NRC will provide a before school and an after school recreation program at the four elementary schools — South Breeze, Sunset, Northridge and Slate Creek — during actual school calendar year. The NRC will also provide an all-day recreation program   on days that school are not in session.

The program will also include a summer recreation program at Sunset Elementary School.

USD 373 will continue to offer breakfast and snacks to participants during in- session school days and access to buses for field trips during school breaks and summer months.

"This will become an NRC program and will eventually change the name in the future," Bascue said.

The term of this Memorandum of Agreement s begins Oct. 25, and ending on June 30, 2022. At the end of the agreement the  NRC and district will review the agreement and make any adjustments deemed appropriate.