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MPS gets proposal to privatize day care center

Talks could help MACC stay open

MARSHALL — Marshall Public Schools Superintendent Jeremy Williams told the school board Monday that it might be possible for a private business to take over operation of the Marshall Area Childcare Center.

“This is a conversation we’ve had ongoing with local child care centers,” Williams said at Monday’s school board meeting. “We have had one of the local centers come forward with a proposal to take over the day care and run the day care.”

Williams did not name the local child care center that made the proposal.

“We need to have some conversations on this proposal that was recently made, and we haven’t had a lot of conversations yet,” Williams said. He said he would likely bring the proposal to the school board at its April 19 meeting, which is when the board needs to make a decision regarding MACC’s future.

The school district had discussed closing MACC this summer. The facility has been operating in the red for years, and district staff said they haven’t been able to find a long-term solution. A group of area parents spoke out against the possibility of closing MACC, citing the shortage of child care providers in southwest Minnesota and long waiting lists for infant and toddler care.

Williams didn’t get into details of the proposal to privatize MACC on Monday. He said he intended to give school board members a quick update on the different options a community task force had explored. Some options brought forward in Feburary, like running the child care center through a Community Services partnership or a corporate sponsorship, didn’t seem to be working out.

Williams said the city of Marshall had a similar pay structure to school district, so if Marshall Community Services took over the day care, “There’s probably not a lot of savings there.”

Williams said a few different businesses have been part of the conversation about keeping MACC open, but the task force had not received any proposals from the businesses.

There is potential to do some restructuring at MACC, like changing the center’s fee structure, and driving for increased enrollment. However, Williams said, one of the concerns he had was that it’s not certain how effective the changes will actually be.

Williams said the task force had talked with MPS, the city of Marshall, the Marshall Area Chamber of Commerce and local child care center operators about privatizing MACC.

“I know they’ve been working with Jessica (Beyer) from First Children’s Finance, on what a financial model would look like for them,” Williams said. And with a proposal from a local child care provider, that option could possibly be a way forward for MACC.

In general, the proposal would be for the local provider to purchase MACC’s equipment and furniture, and sub-lease the current facility. Questions about staffing, licensing and enrollments would still need to be worked out, but a possible target date for the new management to start would be July 1.

Williams said the question of whether to enter negotiations with the business would likely come before the school board at its next regular meeting on July 19.

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