La Crosse County Council will wait another month before making a decision on whether to fund a child care program with the La Crosse School District.
The board narrowly approved postponing the decision for another 30 days on Thursday as concerns about the impact the scheme could have on community childcare businesses remain.
The program, which was presented to council in April, would help fund a daycare center in the district that would serve poor families in targeted La Crosse neighborhoods and district staff.
La Crosse County plans to spend $696,000 of its American Rescue Plan Act funding on Project La Crosse, which would run for a three-year trial period. County officials said the school district would pay just over $1 million.
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On Thursday, council considered for a second time a resolution that would allocate a total of $3 million to this project and similar projects proposed by other county districts.
There was a lot of debate on the issue and almost all county council supervisors spoke during the discussion.
Those who wanted to spend more time on the particular proposal worried that funding a school district child care program would hurt other providers already in the community.
“I don’t know if I could support sending money to the school district, knowing it’s now going to hurt our private child care providers,” Supervisor Jack Pogreba said.
The initial referral was partly intended to allow county officials to meet with childcare providers in the area, but officials said they were still waiting to meet, although some supervisors said they met with owners individually. of business. Some insisted that vendors be prepared to present their own proposal at next month’s planning meeting.
Supervisors hoped that an additional 30 days would provide more answers about the impact the project might have.
Others thought the La Crosse Schools proposal was something the county council could take immediately to help address the childcare crisis.
Many supported a wider distribution of the money – giving La Crosse schools the roughly $700,000 they needed and dividing the rest between proposals from other school districts or private child care providers , such as subsidies to support higher salaries.
After more than an hour or so of discussion, the referral was passed by a vote of 16 to 12.
The pause in funding approvals is likely to impact the schedule for the school district’s project, which was expected to open early in the next school year.
In a Q&A with county and school district officials shared with the Tribune, it was stated that “it’s going to be very difficult to open by September 1 right now. A month-long delay will make that impossible.”
The letter said the district would need four to six months to complete necessary renovations and hire staff.
Although it was stated that the private child care centers are currently writing a proposal for their own type of support, county officials said no other school districts in La Crosse County have expressed interest in developing a program. similar childcare.
The resolution will come back to the board in July for a third review.