BCPS to close KinderCollege

Apr. 26—ASHLAND — Boyd County Public Schools' superintendent informed parents and guardians Wednesday of the impending closure of a local day care facility.

Bill Boblett sent a letter to those affected by the decision to close KinderCollege Day Care, which has been staffed by Boyd County Public Schools. It will shutter its doors on June 28.

"The decision was made after assessing various factors, including future sustainability, staffing and financial resources," Boblett wrote. "We understand KinderCollege has been a trusted partner in caring for your children, and we recognize the importance of this service to many families. However, the resources allocated to KinderCollege must now be directed to the educational needs of the students of Boyd County Public Schools.

"We want to express our deepest gratitude for allowing us to be a part of your child's early development journey," the letter continued. "It has been an honor to see their growth, laughter and achievements. We are thankful for your trust and support over the years."

Ashland Community and Technical College owns the building at 1402 Ramey Street. Boyd County had an agreement with ACTC in which it did not pay rent or have to handle utilities. However, according to Boblett, Boyd County has operated KinderCollege on a large deficit for years.

"The district budget picks up the deficit, and we've done it for years," Boblett said.

According to Boblett, 46 children and eight employees are currently at KinderCollege. It is not a requirement for the children to reside in Boyd County's district.

"There are potential options for employment within the district, and I'll be considering those options within the next three to four weeks," Boblett said.

As for the children and families affected, Boblett empathized, but he reiterated that this was a financial decision.

"I surely understand the predicament they're in," he said. "It's difficult to find day care.

"Those funds are now going to our school kids," Boblett added, referring to all levels within the district. "Those monies will be diverted to our schools."

Boyd County's district still includes a day care facility — Little Friends at 12300 Midland Trail Road.

The reaction to the news spilled over into the Ashland city commission meeting on Thursday when Susan Hendrickson approached the dais during Public Comment.

"I'm here today to talk to you not only about the closing of KinderCollege but also about the larger problem that most of our nation is facing: the child-care deficit," Hendrickson said. "Losing KinderCollege means that 46 children in our local community are without day care. Their families are having to scramble so that they can retain their jobs to keep their families supported, pay their house payments, car payments and buy groceries. ... We need these day cares."

Hendrickson said many area day cares have a waiting list of families trying to get in because of the shortage.

"Child care is infrastructure," she said. "We need it every bit as much as roads and bridges."

Hendrickson, who lives in Greenup County, applied some pressure to the mayor and commissioners to work with local business leaders as well as state and federal government to help bolster child care in the area — which, she said, in turn would attract more businesses.

"Child care is important to this commission," said Mayor Matt Perkins. "The state has funds they could release, and I hope they consider doing that.

"You're right, there are child care deserts," Perkins added in response to Hendrickson. "... It's not falling upon deaf ears, I assure you."

Commissioner Cheryl Spriggs said while her heart aches for children and families struggling to find good child care, the onus should not be on the city.

"The city's charged with certain things that we have to do for citizens, and child care is not on that list; our school children are not on that list," Spriggs said. "The city taxpayers don't fund child care. Now, if there are CDBG funds, I think that's fair. ... But we can't ask the taxpayers of Ashland to fix everything because that's not in our purview."

Perkins said Hendrickson was not out of line, though.

"Asking us for advocacy is important," he said. "This commission cares about families."

(606) 326-2664 — asnyder@dailyindependent.com