Saugus Union to discuss temporarily ending child care program

File photo of the Saugus Union School District.

Saugus Union School District governing board members are expected to discuss temporarily ending the district’s tuition-based child care program during the district’s board meeting Tuesday.

The SUSD board of trustees is expected to discuss ending the Child Development Program, which has been offered to parents in the community for the last two decades — as the program is facing a major revenue challenge due to COVID-19, according to SUSD Superintendent Colleen Hawkins.

“Because of restrictions from (COVID-19), we’ve been struggling to maintain the program,” said Hawkins. “The program is funded through a reserve, which is built on the fees that parents pay — it doesn’t run on any state or federal funds.”

The program, which Hawkins said would have about 3,500 children enrolled in an average year, now has only 207 enrolled, which is causing a major revenue shortfall.

“The program costs about $250,000 a month,” Hawkins said. “The fees from the kids currently enrolled comes to about $85,000 a month, so we would need to quadruple the fees to make enough money to keep the program alive.”

If approved by the governing board during Tuesday’s board meeting, the program would conclude at the end in December, and employees, including activities leaders and site supervisors, would be laid off at that time.

Hawkins added she fully intends to bring the program back when restrictions ease and students are able to return to in-person instruction.

“Hopefully when school returns, we’ll be able to bring the program back since there will be consistency,” said Hawkins. “The leadership of the district is committed to this program solely being suspended, and we fully intend to bring it back.”

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