Stephanie Keene, left, owner of Hearts and Horses in Buxton, pictured here with rider Thea Musco, 7, of Buxton, and riding instructor Emma Kilgore, may expand her offerings this fall in light of school reopening plans. Robert Lowell / American Journal

GORHAM/BUXTON — In Gorham, where the school reopening plan calls for in-person instruction for younger students just two days a week, the Recreation Department is putting expanded programs in place to meet the expected increased demand for child care, according to Director Cindy Hazelton.

Gorham’s Outside School Day Camp, $40, will be 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. starting Aug. 31 at the Old Robie School, Robie Gym or Little Falls Activity Center.

“You can come with us the days you are not in school,” Hazelton said.

Gorham Recreation is also accepting registrations for its After the Bell program, starting Aug. 31, to be held after school until 5:30 p.m. for up to 43 children per site at Narragansett, Great Falls and Village elementary schools. The cost is $20.

Some Gorham neighborhoods are “doing a nanny share and lots of college kids are offering tutoring and school help,” said Suzanne Phillips, Town Council chairman and executive director of Gorham Business Exchange.

Buxton Recreation Director Nicole Welch said Wednesday she is working with schools on space for its child care programs.

There are a lot of unknowns, Welch said.

The SAD 6 board is expected to vote on its school reopening plan Monday, Aug. 17.

“Our hope is to offer programs that will assist with the child care needs of our families. Those are still undetermined at this time, as there are many moving parts that need to come together this fall. Buxton Recreation child care programs are one piece of a large puzzle that the community is working to put together,” Welch said.

One Buxton community member is poised to meet any new demand.

Stephanie Keene, owner and executive director at Hearts & Horses Riding Center on Justin Merrill Road, is planning a Barn Buddies program for up to 20 students ages 6-12 per day from Sept. 8 to Nov. 25. Cost would be $50 a day with a discount for multiple children in a family. Riding lessons would be available for an additional fee.

Keene said the students will learn about equine management – nutrition, feeding and grooming horses – and the outdoors.

In addition to the SAD 6 communities, Keene hopes Barn Buddies will also draw families from Gorham, Westbrook and Scarborough.

Keene’s riding facility includes a heated classroom and indoor riding arena, along with hiking trails, a basketball court, soccer nets and a batting cage. If needed, she said she’ll expand her staff of four, which includes a riding instructor who is also a certified school counselor, to nine. She has also lined up a retired teacher to assist participants with their schoolwork.

“They can get their homework done here,” Keene said.

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