RICHLAND -- A child care center for teen parents could be at River's Edge High School next fall if the Richland School Board reaches an agreement with the Boys & Girls Club of Benton and Franklin Counties.
Club officials and proponents proposed the idea to school board members Tuesday night. Board Chairman Richard Jansons, who said he had worked with the club and Southside Church on the proposal for the past three years, urged the board to approve it.
The proposal was tabled until the board's special meeting today at 2 p.m. for further review.
Club officials said they understood the board's need for due diligence, but also warned they are on a deadline to secure grant dollars for the program and get everything ready for the next school year.
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"Days count in order to be there for students in the fall," said Brian Ace, the club's director.
The proposal calls for a por-table unit to be put near River's Edge to provide child care and support to teen parents attending the alternative school.
Ace said the club has secured some capital and operational funds from the club's partners but about $70,000 in infrastructure costs would need to be provided by the district to get the program running.
The club already operates a similar program at New Horizons High School in Pasco.
Christy Rasmussen, New Horizons' principal, and Tina Gray, a club staff member who works at the school, spoke of how having support for teen parents allows them to continue their education and also to learn parenting skills and receive community support.
"We really do make some great improvements in the lives of teen parents, in the lives of their children," Gray said.
Rasmussen, a Richland resident, said there is a need for support for teen parents in Richland. She said she gets calls from Richland students seeking help and guidance as they struggle with a pregnancy or child care.
Jansons requested the board charge Superintendent Jim Busey with negotiating a contract with the club. Strickler requested more time after hearing the proposal and details of the financial commitment the district would need to make.
* The board unanimously approved an amendment to its novel adoption policy. Under the amendment, novels will be adopted for a minimum grade level. Students who take upper-level courses and their parents will be notified of the more advanced literature by course syllabi.