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posted: 2/15/2012 5:30 AM

Child care contract extended at Hawthorn

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After intense discussion, a long-standing relationship with a Grayslake company to provide child care services in Hawthorn Elementary District 73 will continue.

Afterschool Club will provide after-school and day care through the 2014-15 school year, ending what had become a lengthy debate in the Vernon Hills-based district.

The private enterprise, which has provided the service for district parents and teachers for 21 years, bested the Vernon Hills Park District, which also submitted a proposal.

A possible change in the service, which includes day care for children up to 5 years old whose parents work at District 73, as well for students through fifth grade, has been discussed periodically since last summer.

The 5-2 school board decision Monday to stick with Afterschool Club, followed a three-hour discussion.

"Everybody was just torn on this one. It was probably the toughest board decision we've made in years," said board President Tim Shanahan. "Probably the key was this was not the right time to make the change."

Board member Michelle Comitor said the proposals were comparable but she voted against the Afterschool plan because the park district initially has more suitable space available for kindergarten students. But that is a detail to be worked out and the board is united in the decision, she added.

Afterschool's contract was to have ended at the end of this school year. The decision to extend was determined to be less disruptive as the district continues to evaluate space needs and the possible relocation of services as new superintendent Nicholas Brown settles in July 1.

"They're doing a good job, they've had a 21-year relationship and the superintendent had bigger fish to fry, so to speak," said Brad Goldstein, the district's director of finance and business operations.

Maintaining the current set up will have "a lot less impact," he added. Superintendent Sue Zook had recommended no change.

Afterschool's proposal was $5,000 a month in rent to the district, although an increase to $6,000 to match that of the park district's is being negotiated. The park district's rates to parents also were lower but that was said not be a dealbusting concern for them and subsequently the school board.

"Our strength is in our on continuity and staff," said David Lucas, president and owner of Afterschool. He added that the process was a learning experience.

"We'll examine ways we can partner with other people ... to bring new opportunities to the children under our care," he said.

Jeff Fougerousse, executive director of the Vernon Hills Park District, said Afterschool was a good program and he and Lucas will meet to discuss possibilities.

Unlike many other districts, District 73's enrollment has been increasing and it continues to study how or where programs and services, like child care, will best fit in the future.

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