School district cuts RALLY hours

Early morning child care at five Juneau elementary schools is being eliminated.

The school district’s RALLY program is losing money and will make several changes in January.

RALLY – which stands for Recreation, Arts, Learning and Leadership for Youth – is for kindergarten through fifth graders. The district plans to cut the 7 to 8 a.m. program at all elementary schools except Harborview, downtown.

District spokeswoman Kristin Bartlett says only 22 students are enrolled in the early morning program at Gastineau, Glacier Valley, Mendenhall River, Riverbend, and Auke Bay elementaries, while Harborview has 16.

She says RALLY is supposed to cover its costs, but the district lost $150,000 last year despite a 10 percent increasee in student fees. She says the Harborview RALLY session is paying for itself.

“It’s a combination of increase in operating cost and a change in demand for child care,” Bartlett says. “Not necessarily in the number of students enrolled, but in the times that are needed.”

RALLY has four programs – Before School, After-Kindergarten, After School and Drop-In. According to Bartlett, a total of 392 students are enrolled this year in all the sessions.

Mendenhall River Community School now has a full-day kindergarten, eliminating the need for an After-Kindergarten RALLY program at the school. She says the After-School RALLY at MRCS also will be cut, and students in that program will be taken by bus to the Glacier Valley RALLY program.

RALLY is state-licensed and fills a critical need in the capital city, which has few child care programs.

Bartlett says RALLY school-site managers are working with the families and staff to help them find other options for morning daycare.