ALBURGH — Alburgh will be getting a new daycare, run by the school district, with $750,000 in assistance from the state and federal governments.
An infrastructure grant for $250,000 from Northern Border Regional Commission will help to pay for construction of a new building on the school’s campus which will house the daycare and the existing preschool.
Design work on the building has begun thanks to the Vermont Community Development Program, which has pledged $500,000 to the construction. That grant was split, explained Alburgh Community Educational Center Principal Beth Hemingway, between $60,000 for preliminary work and an additional $440,000 for construction.
The daycare project grew out of Alburgh’s Promise Community. Funded with Obama Administration Race to the Top funds, the goal of promise communities was to improve school readiness for children. Each promise community worked to determine what was needed locally, including conducting community outreach. “It kept coming back to a childcare facility,” said Hemingway.
In addition to benefiting parents in need of childcare, the program will help prepare children for school.
“Our children are coming in significantly delayed,” said Hemingway. Those delays are social, emotional, cognitive and include speech.
In the most recent school year, Alburgh had 40 preschool students but only one classroom, so half of the students attended on Monday and Wednesday and half on Tuesday and Thursday, explained Hemingway. The new building will provide more room for preschool.
Unlike the rest of the state, Alburgh is seeing increases in its student population.
The childcare program will serve children aged 0-3, with an infant room and a toddler room. Hemingway expects it will serve 40-50 children.
Both the school board and the selectboard have been supportive, with the selectboard applying for the Vermont Community Development Program grant on the school district’s behalf, as the program is only open to municipalities. “We really appreciate their support,” said Hemingway.
The Northwest Regional Planning Commission wrote the Northern Borders grant on behalf of the school and has been supportive of the project.
The school has also received $30,000 for a new playground for kids age 5 and under from the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation. The playground will be open to the community to provide more recreational opportunities for families, said Hemingway
Two members of Sen. Bernie Sanders office visited last week to learn about the plan and Gov. Phil Scott is planning to visit next week, according to Hemingway.
While the new building is good news, the school is struggling in another area. The supervisory union lost its funding for after school programs, so Hemingway is hoping to start after school clubs led by adults from the school or community willing to give an hour of their time each week. Those interested should contact the school.