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Magic Moments program may be eliminated

By LEANA CHOATE - lchoate@newsexaminer.com

A 26-year-old preschool and child care program, Magic Moments, looks as if it will be closed this year but Fayette County School Corp. is preparing other places for the children and staff.

At Tuesday’s school board meeting, Superintendent Scott Collins said the program is costing more money than it brings in and asked board members for guidance. The program operates from a building at 1601 Spartan Drive.

The financial condition of Magic Moments is “not strong,” Collins said.

“In 2012, the school board approved financial support of over $42,000 to help with the expenses,” Collins said. “As of today, Magic Moments has only paid $10,000 back of this money we provided them to help keep their operations running.”

The school corporation is still owed $32,000 of this money, which they won’t receive due to continuing financial issues, Collins said.

 in 2018, Magic Moments daycare and preschool overspent its revenue by $34,000. 

“That is a significant amount of money lost. With the preschool class alone, it is losing about $500 per month with an expected deficit of $4,000 by August 2019,” Collins said.

Head Start and Title 1 Preschool are federally funded.

Board member Andy Yaryan said that, financially, it is probably “time to make the change.”

Board president Leslie Jacobs said that her children had excellent experience with Magic Moments but the free preschool programs can probably meet the same need without the financial drawbacks.

While the board made no decision about closing the program, the staff and the children at Magic Moments will be taken care of if it is closed, Collins said.

“I believe it is important that we support our Magic Moments employees who have dedicated so much time and care for the children at Magic Moments with opportunities for positions in our school buildings,” Collins said. “We want to be sure that we help keep them informed and supported if the school board makes a decision to close Magic Moments this summer.”

Kelly McCullum, early childhood director, said the employees of Magic Moments would easily transition into the Head Start program or the new Title 1 Preschool program as employees. 

“There will be four employees seeking employment,” McCullum said. “They are already licensed and Magic Moments already passed a Quality 3, our Head Start program is already a Quality 3, so they would transition right into that process.”

Child care programs are rated according to a four-step quality program, with Quality 3 being second-best, according to the website childcareindiana.org. 

If the program is closed, McCullum will prepare information for parents of Magic Moments to help them locate local childcare or preschool programming for their children. 

“We currently have nine preschool classes in our school district that are located in elementary buildings which provides young children an opportunity to become acclimated in a large school setting,” Collins said.

This would allow children to make smoother transitions to kindergarten. With FCSC Head Start, Title 1 Preschool and Developmental Preschool programs, transportation is also available. 

“We’re not just going to close this program and say, ‘that’s it, we’re closed,’ we’re going to work closely with these childrens’ parents and these employees,” Collins said at the school board meeting.

Collins said he will prepare information to present to the board on April 9. The board is expected to make a decision about the program at that time. The meeting, open to the public, will start at 6:30 p.m. in the administration building, 1401 Spartan Drive.