BEND, OR -- Bend Parks and Recreation is trying to find more space in its Kids Inc. after-school program. Registration for next fall opened last month, and Recreation Services Manager Sue Boettner says all but two schools are at capacity, "Registrations open at 5:30 and we were full at a lot of schools at 5:40, which is really a lot."
The urgency was prompted by a change of start times by Bend-La Pine Schools; elementary schools will get out earlier than middle and high schools, which means teens won’t be able to pick up or watch younger siblings. Boettner says Parks and Rec and the school district worked together prior to the Kids Inc registration, because they knew more space would be needed, "We thought it would be bigger but, you never know. We did surveys and let people know, but we had no idea of what kind of response we would get."
Parks and Rec added at least 25 slots at every school program. For the 2019-20 school year, Kids Inc has space for a total of 1,170 children; that's 460 more than this year. As of this week, there are 1,100 already enrolled, "North Star - the new school, and Ensworth are not full right now, but every other school is full. We operate in 15 schools, and we have 85+ kids at every school, except those two." But, Boettner says, there are fewer on waiting lists: 290, compared to 360 at this time last year. And, they are still looking for more space, "Especially for the Highland School. Because they have the largest waitlist in the district, we’re looking at alternatives like other churches, just other facilities where we maybe could take 40 more kids and hire more staff. That’s the other thing, staffing is really hard. It’s an employee’s market now. Everyone is hiring everywhere." Boettner says many families will turn to the Boys and Girls club, but registration for their after school program doesn't open until August.