Home One community Frisco City Council Approves Child Care Cost Assistance

Frisco City Council Approves Child Care Cost Assistance

Summit County Preschool is pictured August 28, 2018, along Main Street in Frisco. The City of Frisco is working to implement a child care expense assistance program to make preschool education more affordable for local families.
Hugh Carey Archive/Summit Daily News

The Frisco City Council revisited the November child care expense relief conversation during a business session on Tuesday, January 11, backing the idea of ​​offering bursaries to families. It would be modeled after the City of Breckenridge program and would help families who earn between 73% and 150% of the area’s median income.

The council earmarked $250,000 in the 2022 budget for child care, including $65,000 for Summit County Preschool, leaving a balance of $185,000 for tuition assistance and grants. , such as the $50,000 grant for licensed home child care providers who are starting or expanding operations.

There has been some debate about whether the tuition assistance program should be limited to families living and working in Frisco or the Greater Tenmile Basin as a whole. Frisco City Manager Tony O’Rourke said the towns of Dillon, Silverthorne and Breckenridge are exploring a county-wide tuition assistance program with Summit County, and some council members expressed concern about preventative support for out-of-town families.

“I want to take care of Frisco and Frisco businesses,” said board member Andrew Aerenson. “Those outside our boundaries are cared for by the county through jurisdictional boundaries.”

Others disagreed, saying residents of Bill’s Ranch and Copper Mountain are part of Frisco’s community and economy.

“Ultimately, if we’re trying to move to a county-wide system, I think we should adopt the Tenmile Basin because it just demonstrates that we’re one community,” said Melissa Sherburne, a member of the advice. “I also sympathize with the families who I know can live at Bill’s Ranch, they can live at Copper and they live there because there are no other options. That’s where they landed, but they’re still part of that community.

The city council eventually agreed to have the program support the estimated 50 or so families in the basin for $349,452. Breckenridge will administer the Tuition Assistance Program for $250 per scholarship.

It was noted that if there is a county-wide child care assistance program, Early Childhood Options would likely lead the effort. City Council approved the appointment of Chief Financial Officer Leslie Edwards as Frisco’s representative on the Early Years Options Board of Directors. Edwards has experience with the Breckenridge program and she was the treasurer of Little Red Schoolhouse.

Frisco also has $573,000 from the nicotine tax to fund child care initiatives, and the board will use it for part of the tuition assistance program. The city council can allocate about $300,000 per year of the tax to future child care programs.

However, as in November, the city council did not support raising preschool teacher salaries with the nicotine money at that time. Some board members said it was up to the school to raise salaries and that lobbying the city on behalf of teachers was a better path. Council member Dan Fallon disagreed with the decision.

“Scholarships are great, but that won’t change the underlying ability issue, which is driven by compensation,” Fallon said. “If we don’t fix this right now, immediately, with an injection of money and allow tuition fees to catch up, that’s how we will close this gap. … We fall short if we don’t fund.

Public comment isn’t usually given during business sessions, but the board made an exception for Jennifer McAtamney, president of Early Childhood Options, and Candice De, president of Summit County Preschool. De said the Summit County Preschool was not operating at full capacity because it could not hire enough teachers.

“Obviously it’s a county-wide problem, but it’s really tough, especially at Summit County Preschool, when we’re competing with Breckenridge when they’re paying $3 more,” De said.

McAtamney explained that wage enhancement assistance can help prevent facilities from hemorrhaging jobs.

“That’s another element that creates sustainability in your overall early years system, to have good staff and to know that those schools can pay those teachers an appropriate salary for the work that they do,” said said McAtamney.

The Council, however, said the matter would be revisited later.

“We won’t let him go,” Frisco Mayor Hunter Mortensen said. “It’s important to all of us. … It’s just not where we want to put our nicotine tax funding right now.