Hybrid program aids children

New TPS, YMCA partnership combines preschool, day care

Kashayla Faulkner, left, watches Brittany Taber and Riley Taber find locations on a globe during the Toledo Public Schools/YMCA day-care program at DeVeaux Elementary School in West Toledo.
Kashayla Faulkner, left, watches Brittany Taber and Riley Taber find locations on a globe during the Toledo Public Schools/YMCA day-care program at DeVeaux Elementary School in West Toledo.

The school day at DeVeaux Elementary had ended more than an hour ago, but the wing by its cafeteria buzzed Wednesday afternoon with children.

Elementary students lined up, ready for a playground session, while preschoolers across the hall moved among computer, reading, coloring, and other centers.

“We keep them busy,” said the center’s director, Nicole Elton, “and we give them some place to go that’s safe and constructive.”

The YMCA and JCC of Greater Toledo and Toledo Public Schools opened a new partnership this week at DeVeaux, moving a child development center to the West Toledo school.

From 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., preschoolers now fill two former music rooms, joined by older peers before and after school. The YMCA moved from a facility across from Start High School, giving it more room and an updated facility.

It’s a mix between a preschool, day care, and after-school program for students, complete with homework help, field trips, and other activities.

The co-location is the latest in a string of similar relationships between TPS and area nonprofits, one of the major focuses of the district’s “transformation plan.” There are now three Boys and Girls clubs housed at TPS schools, four “community hubs,” a YMCA at Start, and several other partnerships that house outside agencies within school buildings. The Toledo Board of Education last month approved a lease agreement that allows Toledo Day Nursery to use space at Reynolds Elementary.

For the district, the DeVeaux arrangement brings both intangible and financial benefits. With a declining student population, many schools have extra space, so bringing new partners strengthens schools and is cost-effective, district leaders said. The lease agreement generates $3,600 a month for the district for what would have been largely unused space in the school, TPS business manager James Gant said.

The arrangement also could lead to better alignment between what preschool students are taught and what kindergarten teachers expect students to know.

“Hopefully, we can develop the relationship between our kindergarten teachers and YMCA staff,” TPS chief academic officer Jim Gault said.

The YMCA program is semisecluded in a wing of DeVeaux away from regular classrooms, with a dedicated entrance for parents. Elementary students work in one room, with preschoolers in another.

The K-6 program is only for DeVeaux students, but the preschool classes are open to the community. That helps introduce parents to the school, principal Chad Henderly said, helping quash misconceptions about DeVeaux. He’s had several parents tell him they thought the school was still a middle school, not knowing the district converted all elementary and middle schools to K-8 buildings two years ago.

Mr. Henderly said the biggest benefit is to the community, because parents will know where their children are, and they’ll receive beneficial programming. The partnership should make life easier for some parents, who now can reduce their daily trips. Instead of dropping off one child at day care and another at school, everybody can be delivered in one trip.

The relationship also has benefits for the YMCA. The new location has more resources, because the playground, cafeteria, gymnasium, and computer lab will be open to students during nonschool hours. The YMCA can also serve more children than at its old location, vice president of child development Sarah Otis said.

The YMCA is licensed to serve up to 77 kids at the site, and Ms. Otis said there are about 50 enrolled in the pre-K and elementary age programs. Because it’s not run by TPS, it isn’t free. Prices vary based on a child’s age and hours served — the program tries to be flexible, Ms. Otis said — but the weekly full price is $50 for K-6 students, and $137 for full-day, pre-K child care.

Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at: nrosenkrans@theblade.com or 419-724-6086, or on Twitter @NolanRosenkrans.