Saratoga Sun Editorial

 


At the last meeting of the Carbon County School District No. 2 (CCSD No. 2) on April 18 in Hanna, Superintendent Jim Copeland notified the board that a group of people in Saratoga has asked the school district to consider donating land near Saratoga Elementary School (SES) for an expansion of the ExCel preschool.

While Copeland said there was not a formal motion to the board to consider such a donation, he did say he wanted to bring the proposal to the board’s attention.

ExCel preschool currently occupies trailers on land belonging to the Roman Catholic Church, but it cannot expand at that location to meet current demand for daycare. Deb Cunningham, Director of the Preschool in Encampment, recently declared a Valley “baby boom” at the April 14 meeting of the Riverside Town Council. The population of her school was predicted to increase by 10 students next year, and the school’s program for toddlers was completely full with a waiting list, she told the town council members.


While it can be challenging to get up-to-the-minute population figures for a town like Saratoga, the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey estimates the present population of Saratoga is somewhere around 1,929, a 14 percent increase since the last official census count of 1,690 taken in 2010. Current population estimates indicate that approximately 24 percent of residents are under the age of 18, whereas in 2010, the population of that age group was 18 percent.

Even for those who do not have children, the availability of quality daycare is an economic issue that affects individual families’ well-being, as well as the overall economic health of the community. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of mothers working outside the home has steadily increased over the last several decades. As families have seen their inflation-adjusted incomes remain flat since the 1980s record numbers of families have become multiple-income families. Between 1980 and 2000, the number of mothers with children below the age of six who worked outside the home increased from 47 percent to 65 percent, according to the BLS.

For many families, the lack of child care facilities means making hard choices. Some families choose to have one parent stay at home with the children, forgoing a second — oft badly needed — income. Others choose to rely on family members, friends, unlicensed daycare providers, or some combination of those to provide care while both parents work. Other families decide to split up parental work schedules to allow one parent to be at home at all times of day. All of these options have the potential to negatively affect the family structure and the overall economic vitality of the town.

Besides making things better for families in the valley, quality daycare opportunities can also have a profound impact on the future academic performance of children. Studies have found a positive correlation between students who attended pre-kindergarten daycare or pre-school, and better academic performance later in students’ schooling. Cunningham told the Riverside council she believes the success of students at Encampment K-12 is due to the daycare’s location inside the school, saying students who attend pre-K at the school are more comfortable and less intimidated when starting kindergarten.

We at the Saratoga Sun believe adequate daycare is an increasing necessity and encourage the school district to strongly consider donating the land in question to further that goal. We would also like to see the town of Saratoga support this action by granting any incentive possible to help achieve this goal without having to actually finance the endeavor.

 

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