Forest Park District 91 schools have opted out the Park District of Forest Park’s Monday preschool program, with the West Cook YMCA picking up preschool care next year instead. 

“It’s just an opportunity to make our program an even better program,” Supt. Lou Cavallo said at a meeting on April 11, adding that the Y approached D91 about introducing preschool care. 

“Because our teachers do not have a planning period, they have a morning session and an afternoon session with no time in between — they do get a lunch — no planning time between the two sessions, so the teachers’ planning time is on that Monday. The students are needed to be somewhere else for that to occur,” said Cavallo, adding that the park district have been “fantastic partners” over the last five years, but the Y offers students opportunities like cooking, foreign language, and “all kinds of activities for our students that they just didn’t have the capacity to do with the park district.” He said the park district will not lose any funding, since D91 funded the entire program. The district, he added, will continue to fund the Y’s program, which will take place at St. John Lutheran Church, and provide students transportation there. 

As the district increases its relationship with the Y, board member Christina Ricordati wondered if they would consider offering care to students whose parents needed them to be enrolled in a full-day preschool program. 

“One of the biggest barriers for a lot of parents in using a preschool program is the wraparound care because it’s only half-day,” she said.  

Cavallo replied that the Y was committed to eventually providing wraparound care but that it did not yet meet the legal requirements for offering such a program

“The bottom line is the issue with licensure, and the building that they’re using for a short-term program or activity like this, they don’t have to have the same licensure as they would for a half-day,” Cavallo said. “They want to get that, and if they can get more space at St. John’s to do that, they intend to do that and then they can provide a whole, half-day daycare for our students. That’s in the works already.” 

The D91 board voted unanimously to approve the measure.