PALMYRA, Wis. — The Palmyra-Eagle School District, which is about an hour southwest of Milwaukee, saw a need in its community and took action. It turned a school building that was sitting empty into a Montessori program for young kids, and a day care for babies and toddlers.
It just opened this fall.
“The need for having quality child care, that, you know, your child is safe, and also learning is pretty important,” said Amy Muth, whose grandson Aiden is enrolled in the day care.
Muth said there are only a couple other day cares in the area, and both have been at capacity. She works and struggled with where to take Aiden.
Janelle Gayhart, a new mother to baby Noah, has a similar story.
“We’ve been looking since before I even had him,” said Gayhart. “There are no day cares in the area. There are no openings, and they are not taking kids on the waitlist.”
Janelle and her husband almost had to take drastic action to make sure Noah could get the care he needed.
“One of us would have to quit our job,” she said.
The challenge of finding a day care with openings is a growing reality, especially in small towns like Palmyra.
Kelley Lang is among the new teachers hired by the Palmyra-Eagle School District to operate the day care. It’s attached to the new Montessori program for students in kindergarten through third grade. There’s no extra cost to attend the Montessori. Day care is year-round and reasonable, costing $56 for a full day. Both programs offer extended hours for an added price.
There’s already a waitlist for the district-run day care, and a search is underway to hire more workers. School district leaders said it is trying to offer more flexible schedules and is developing a program in which high school students interested in pursuing education degrees can work at the day care.
“We do have room to expand, so the more students that come in, then we will hire and find more employees,” said Ryan Krohn, superintendent of the Palmyra-Eagle School District.