Park City School District Child Care Center expected to close next month |

Park City School District Child Care Center expected to close next month

Factors such as inflation contributed to the shuttering scheduled for Sept. 19

The Park City School District Child Care Center, which is used by many district employees because of the accommodating schedule, is expected to close on Sept. 19. Child Care Center Board member Danielle Hall said factors such as inflation and salary contributed to the decision.
David Jackson/Park Record

The Park City School District Child Care Center is expected to close next month unless the facility can secure funding crucial to continuing operations.

Parents with children enrolled at the childcare center learned on Saturday the center would be closing on Sept. 19, not at the end of the 2022-2023 school year as expected. Danielle Hall, the childcare center’s lone board member, sent an email to families explaining factors such as inflation and increasing wages spurred by rising costs led to the decision.

“While I have been on the Board, the Center has dealt with many changes and interruptions. We have handled these issues without assistance from the District, but now our association with the District is preventing us from handling the rising costs of inflation like other PC childcare centers,” the email said. 

The childcare center is an independent nonprofit entity that’s contracted through the School District to provide quality care for a reasonable cost. The youngest children of district employees are prioritized for enrollment. 

“Park City School District is committed to supporting all our employees, especially as they welcome our students for the promise of a great school year. We share the concern of many of our district employees and community members upon receiving the abrupt announcement of the PCSD Child Care Center’s decision to close its services on Sept. 19, 2022. The Park City Child Care Center is a valued partner with PCSD and has been actively exploring strategies and creative solutions to address impacts of labor shortages,” Park City School District Superintendent Jill Gildea said in a statement to The Park Record.

The facility, which is located on the Park City High School campus, relies on regulations and supportive programming from the district. However, Hall said, incorporating initiatives like student volunteers at the childcare center has prevented it from qualifying for grants that off-site facilities are eligible for.

“Our handbook dictates that we must follow all state regulations because we believe that is in the best interest of the children’s happiness and safety, but not being officially licensed means we cannot receive most grants and subsidies that other childcare centers use to keep afloat while keeping prices affordable,” Hall said in the email to parents.

She explained the childcare center increased tuition to help pay for a salary increase for their teachers amid the Park City area’s cost of living. Tuition at the center is $1,190 a month for an infant receiving care five days a week. The cost was $990 during the 2021-2022 school year. The center fills up fast and regularly has a waiting list. 

But the wage increase still isn’t competitive compared to the private sector. Hall said the center can’t raise the pay again without pricing out the School District’s teachers – many of the same people who rely on the center’s flexible schedule and low cost.

“Without funding from grants or state subsidies, and without any assistance (financial or other) from the District, the Center cannot be kept afloat while following state safety guidelines beyond a 9/19/22 closure date,” Hall wrote.

The Park City School District Child Care Center is expected to close on Sept. 19 unless the facility can secure funding crucial to continuing operations.
David Jackson/Park Record

She said the childcare center can remain on-site if supplemental funding is secured from the School District or if a livable wage can be offered to attract employees. 

If the center can remain open for the 2022-2023 school year, it’s still unclear what operations would look like in the future. Hall said the building that houses the facility is scheduled to be torn down during construction to improve the district’s infrastructure. A new location for the center has not been determined. The uncertainty over how the School District will continue childcare services has led some center staff to accept job offers elsewhere, Hall said. 

“Those are the facts, and while the economist side of my brain understands the logistics, the rest of my brain knows that this is absolutely heartbreaking. I have enjoyed working with the Center teachers over the last 21 months, and I have seen the impact their compassion, love and hard work has had on my children,” Hall wrote.

Gildea said district leaders continue working with Ashley Baer, the director of the childcare center, and Hall to find solutions. Baer did not respond to The Park Record’s request for comment.

“To the employees and community members impacted by the decision of the PCCCC to close its doors … please know that we understand how critical it is for your child care needs to be met and regret the undoubted strain this announcement has caused,” Gildea said.

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