Benson commits $10,000 annually toward daycare

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Benson’s City Council agreed Monday night to commit up to $10,000 annually to support the daycare center for infants and toddlers being established by Benson Public Schools.

Supt. Dennis Laumeyer told the council that the District 777 Board of Education voted to submit an application to the State of Minnesota requesting permission to provide daycare for 16 infants and 28 toddlers. It has also agreed to subsidize the cost of the operation by up to $10,000 annually if it experiences a loss on the operation, he said.

It is not the intent of the school board to run the daycare at a loss, Laumeyer said, but the first year of operations will have upfront capital costs for equipment that could total around $50,000. It will also have costs associated with remodeling facilities to provide for the daycare operation that it plans to locate in the basement of the Junior High School.

The school does plan on running a funding campaign to raise money for its capital costs, Laumeyer told the council.

But just what it will cost to run the daycare as the school district refines the operations during its first couple years is uncertain, he said. That is why it is seeking funding commitments from other local governments in the area as well as from businesses. Last week, the Swift County-Benson Health Services’ Governing Board voted to commit up to $10,000 annually to the daycare facility.

Laumeyer told the council that the Robert Sonsteng Foundation has indicated it will be making a donation to the daycare’s operating expenses to cover potential losses. One major employer in the community will also be making a contribution in the coming week.

Council Member Terri Collins said she strongly believes that supporting the school’s daycare operation is economic development. Collins moved the city contribute up to $10,000 annually to the school’s daycare operations with a second by Council Member Lucas Olson. Council Members Collins, Olson, Stephanie Heinzig and Jack Evenson, along with Mayor Gary Landmark, voted in favor of the financial commitment.

To get input on the daycare’s operations from the local government entities and businesses that have made financial commitments, the school is creating an advisory board. Donors will each have one seat on the board. Olson was appointed by the council as its representative.
Adequate day services are seen as an essential economic development challenge for many rural communities in Minnesota, but a growing shortage is hurting employee recruitment and retention for businesses from manufacturers to main street. It is also a significant problem for public employers trying to bring new people to the area....


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