SCARBOROUGH — The Town Council and Scarborough Community Services is looking into a childcare option to support the reopening of schools, which would probably not be ready until Oct. 1 if approved.

Scarborough students, like many other districts in Maine, will be attending school through a hybrid model at the start of this fall, Tom Hall, town manager, said during the childcare workshop on Aug. 17. The students will be in the school building two days a week and will work remotely for the remaining days.

The schools are breaking students up into two groups in order for everyone who is not opting to go fully remote this fall to be in the building, according to the district’s reopening plan. Cohort A will attend school in-person on Monday and Tuesday and Cohort B will go into the buildings on Thursday and Friday.

As of Aug. 17, 217 students are enrolled in the Community Services’ before and after care programs, Todd Souza, director of Scarborough Community Services, said.

He and Souza have considered the former House of Lights Building 419 Payne Road to be the location for such a program, Hall said, but added that he cannot secure a lease without the Town Council’s approval.

The property, after considering social distancing requirements from the state, would be able to accommodate 40 students each day, Souza said.


The childcare program would only be open to students who are already signed up for before and after care, Hall said. Students would expect a quiet environment that would allow them to complete homework and classwork assignments.

Souza said that the program would look like a full day of camp that Scarborough Community Services typically offers each summer, minus the field trips.

“We are in this business already,” Souza said.

In order to cover costs, Hall said that the state of Maine had distributed about $2 million in COVID-19 Relief Funding to be used for school costs that were not budgeted for and served all students. However, because the childcare option would not be available for every student, it is unclear if the program could use these funds.

In support of looking more into the program were Councilors Jean-Marie Caterina, John Cloutier, and Don Hamill.

Cloutier said he believed a program for 40 students a day was realistic and wouldn’t be too costly.


“It feels like we have an obligation as a community to provide this for people who don’t have a safe space to learn,” Cloutier said.

Councilors Peter Hayes, Ken Johnson, and Betsy Gleysteen said that they believed that the program is needed but there are too many unanswered questions and not enough time.

There is a legal issue as well, Hayes said. He wanted to know what the liability would be if a student caught COVID-19 in the program.

Councilor Chair Paul Johnson said that he believed the program should be 100 percent need-based and should be covered through the COVID-19 Relief Funding. However, he said, he doesn’t think the town can offer the program to 100 percent of the school population in such a short amount of time.

While Hall said that he didn’t want to invest too much town staff time into looking into this option, nor did he want to get hopes up, he didn’t see any harm in “testing the waters and negotiating a lease.”

The Town Council and Souza agreed to meet the week of Aug. 24 to discuss this issue again. Another childcare workshop is scheduled for Aug. 26.

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