While parents are clamouring to enroll their children in all-day kindergarten for next fall, interest in extended-day programs has been less enthusiastic, meaning that many of the GTA schools set to introduce the full-day program next fall won't be offering before- and after-school care.
Minister of Education Leona Dombrowsky announced the list of more than 200 sites for the second phase of its rollout Tuesday, including an additional 20 sites in Toronto. The vision of Charles Pascal, the expert who developed the model for the program, was to provide continuous care throughout the day, combining childcare and education. But for that model to be maintained, the school boards stand to learn a lesson from the first phase of the rollout: Parents won't commit to before- and after-school programs without a firm price tag.
"We're not able to offer it at any of our sites, there hasn't been enough interest," said Catherine LeBlanc Miller, a trustee for the Toronto Catholic District School Board, which will roll out the full-day program at 28 sites this fall. "I think it's because of the fees, parents want to know the price before they commit."
Kelly Baker, a spokeswoman for the Toronto District School Board, said after-hours childcare would be offered at "only a handful" of the 71 schools where the board will introduce the program this fall.
"I think there is a range value. Last I heard there wasn't a concrete price so that might have something to do with why people haven't signed up," she said.
None of the 25 sites at the York Region District School Board had sufficient demand either.
The Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board, however, will be offering extended daycare next fall at most of its 16 full-day sites through contracts with existing providers like the YMCA.
"They are charging $22 a day and have advertised this to parents," said spokesman Bruce Campbell.
All-day kindergarten will be introduced in September in nearly 600 schools across the province, and by the 2011-12 school year, in an additional 200 schools, bringing the full-day option to about 50,000 students.
Extended-day care aside, the full-day program remains popular among parents.
"What we're hearing from school boards is there has been a very healthy response to [the full-day]initiative, parents are voting with their feet on this one," Dombrowsky said.
The province has pledged $200-million toward the program for next year, $300-million for the second year and another $245-million to build classrooms to accommodate the program. All-day kindergarten will be available everywhere, to about 240,000 students in 4,000 classrooms, by 2015.
The earliest phases of the rollout will be the most affordable, as boards and the ministry cherry-pick sites that need the least renovation. The TCDSB will receive just under $2.3-million and the TDSB just over $4.6-million in capital funding, to build and expand classrooms for the second phase.
But boards are already expressing concerns that the program is under-funded - The TDSB is projecting a $400,000 shortfall and the Peel District School Board a $1.8-million shortfall in funding for phase one of the rollout.
Toronto schools that will offer full-day kindergarten in 2011-12 include:
Buchanan Public School
Burrows Hall Junior Public School
Chalkfarm Public School
Galloway Road Public School
Heritage Park Public School
Ionview Public School
Queen Victoria Junior Public School
Sprucecourt Junior Public School
St. Margaret's Public School
Walter Perry Junior Public School
Holy Rosary Catholic School
Nativity of Our Lord Catholic School
Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School
St. Charles Garnier Catholic School
St. Dominic Savio Catholic School
St. Marguerite Bourgeoys Catholic School
St. Norbert Catholic School
St. Rita Catholic School
St. Teresa Catholic School
St. Wilfrid Catholic SchoolReport Typo/Error