Applications for snow day childcare program will be accepted through Monday

Friday, December 2, 2011 | 11:03 a.m. CST; updated 9:58 p.m. CST, Saturday, December 3, 2011

COLUMBIA — The period to apply for a pilot program designed to provide child care on snow days will end Monday.

The Elementary Snow Day Club, held by the Columbia Public School District, will provide day care for 180 students at Mill Creek, West Boulevard and Derby Ridge elementary schools at a cost of $15 per day. Parents can submit applications with a deposit of $15 to the district's main administration building at 1818 W. Worley St., but the waiting list included 49 people Friday morning.

Michelle Baumstark, the district's community relations coordinator, said the program helps parents who can't afford day care, which can run $30 to $40 a day and might not provide service on a single-day basis.

"This is the true benefit that kids are still in school and parents won't have to take a day off," she said. "Especially when there are multiple snow days like what had happened last winter."

Chris Belcher, district superintendent, said he came up with this idea so the school district can contribute to the community.

"We see a lot of poverty in the community," Belcher said. "Many parents are working multiple jobs."

Each of the participating schools are centrally located in the district so that students can get to the club easily. Each building will set aside four classrooms and have students divided into two groups: One for those in kindergarten to second grade and one for those in third grade to fifth grade. Students, led by aides, can learn arts and crafts and may get a chance to play in the snow.

Columbia parents are encouraged to keep signing up for the club because the district is interested in measuring demand for the program to help decide how large it should be next year.

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