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MUSCATINE — In an effort to improve enrollment at Colorado and Mulberry elementary schools, the Muscatine Board of Education approved a pilot project to provide child care before and after school.

“If it works, it could be a great service to parents,” Muscatine Superintendent Jerry Riibe said. “If it doesn’t, we know that we need to look at a plan B.”

Starting this fall, Riibe said the two schools would provide the space needed for the program, which may encourage families to enroll students at those schools. The program will be managed by a private for-profit provider, To the Moon and Back Child Care, that he said would need to have 10 children in the program to make the pilot work. Riibe said Early Childhood Administrator Deb Welk reached out to local private providers to set up the pilot. Enrollment in the program is open to students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

Parents will be responsible for paying for child care directly to the provider, Riibe said. Costs are $50 per week for after-school care only and $75 per week for both before- and after-school care.

The before-school hours are 7-8 a.m., which includes time for breakfast paid for by parents. The after-school program will be 3-5:30 p.m. and will include a snack.

Riibe said the program would be “no risk to the district” as it’s “not putting any finances on the line.” There also would be no increase in insurance for the schools to house the program, he confirmed.

The schools will not provide any transportation.

Depending on the outcome of the pilot, the school district would draw up a proposal for other child care providers to place a bid for services.

“We would look at piloting this year in those two schools and if it’s successful then we would want to look at expanding this to the other elementaries, at which time we would want to put out an RFP,” Riibe said.

Riibe said he hopes the program is “wildly successful" and that "all the buildings would have that opportunity next year.”

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