YMCA remodeling child care area to deal with influx

The Ashland Family YMCA is remodeling its child care wing this month to better cope with an influx of kids due to the economy and school cuts, executive director Lisa Molnar said.

Every time Ashland School District cuts school days, the gym sees as many as 80 children sign up for its day program. Hundreds of kids are also enrolled in after-school sports programs the YMCA offers, Molnar said.

"We definitely continue to serve more kids, especially as schools cut things," she said. "We respond to that and try to fill the gap."

The remodel will provide about 40 percent more space for the YMCA's preschool program and also improve play spaces for grade-school kids, she said.

Construction is limited to the southwest wing of the 20-year-old building and should be completed by the end of the summer, said Jason Stranberg, YMCA board president and project manager for Adroit Construction Company, which is handling the remodel.

"This is a reaction to the need in town," he said. "We continue to see families having to go back to work, who otherwise would have been home with their kids."

The YMCA has especially noticed an increase in the frequency of kids at its programs since the district began making deep cuts three years ago, Stranberg said.

The district had a full school year this academic year, after cutting five days from the calendar for the previous two years. Next academic year the district plans to eliminate two days from the calendar. On those days, the gym will hold day programs for kids.

The YMCA is also planning to offer several sports programs at Ashland Middle School next academic year, after the district cut funding for the programs.

"We're gearing up in anticipation of the need that we continue to see from the community," Stranberg said. "That's the driving force behind this remodel."

Contact reporter Hannah Guzik at 541-708-1158 or hguzik@dailytidings.com.

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