Priya Kapoor, executive director of the Smithtown Historical Society, inside the Brush Barn...

Priya Kapoor, executive director of the Smithtown Historical Society, inside the Brush Barn on Monday, a potential site for a child care program. Credit: Jeff Bachner

Weeks before the start of a school year that will mix in-person and remote learning, Smithtown officials are trying to hire teachers and find space for a full-day school-age child care program for working parents in the Smithtown Central School District.

The program could use catering facilities at the Smithtown Landing Country Club or the Smithtown Historical Society’s Brush Barn, town spokeswoman Nicole Garguilo said, though no agreements have been reached for those spaces and permits have not yet been secured from Suffolk County and New York State. The program would cost up to $972 per month per child, a rate set to cover the town's costs. Total possible enrollment and start date have yet to be determined.

Garguilo said it was unlikely the program would open by Sept. 9, the first day of school in the Smithtown district. “Most likely it will be two weeks out from the start of school, and hopefully we can overdeliver on that,” Garguilo said. The country club has space for about 75 children at one time, the Brush Barn for about 40.

Maureen Fiorello, director of the town’s school-age child care program, did not respond to an interview request. Garguilo said preparation had been delayed because program administrators had waited to see if they were going to get access to school district space, which did not materialize, and because the school district had waited for state guidance about opening.

The district’s public relations firm did not make Superintendent Russell Stewart available for an interview.

District administrators this summer announced a plan to open with students attending school two to three days a week and receiving prerecorded lessons remotely on other days.

Some parents unable to work from home have said that plan, designed to make school safer and socially distanced by halving the number of students in school buildings on any given day, puts them in an impossible position: quit or take a leave of absence from work, or pay a high price for child care on the days their children are not in school.

“The anxiety is through the roof,” said Courtney Lamposa, a mother of two young children. She and her husband work full-time in construction. Neither can work from home, so they are searching for a program for their second-grader; their younger child is already in a day care program that costs $1,200 a month.

They prefer a program with licensed teachers like the one the town already offers mornings and afternoons at district elementary schools, but one private program they found charges $95 per day plus a $500 deposit. Even hiring a babysitter would be expensive, she said; most in the area charge $15 per hour or more.

“With the taxes we pay, we should be able to send the kids to school,” she said. 

For safety reasons, the existing town program, which operates mornings and afternoons at district elementary schools, cannot simply expand to include a full-day component, Garguilo said. 

The district has not made space available for a full-day program and its reopening plan does not address full-day care. District administrators have “requested the town to offer a full-day option for the community and staff to address child care concerns,” Andrew Tobin, assistant superintendent for finance and operations, said at an online Aug. 17 school board public information session.

“The district is requesting at this time the program utilize facilities outside of the district so we may provide all the existing district spaces,” Tobin said. “We’re hopeful the town can come up with a full-day program to hopefully match the hybrid needs.”

Historical Society executive director Priya Kapoor said the nonprofit has been forced to cancel most event space rentals and children’s programming, which typically provide much of its operating revenue. “We are run by the people of Smithtown and the families of Smithtown,” she said. “If there’s anything we can do, we’d be grateful for the opportunity.”

Smithtown Central School District hybrid model

Group 1: Students with last names beginning A-K

Group 2: Students with last names beginning L-Z

Group 1 attends school in-person Monday, Tuesday, alternating Wednesdays; Group 2 attends Thursday, Friday, alternating Wednesdays.

Students receive prerecorded remote instruction on days when not attending school.

A Newsday analysis shows the number of referees and umpires has declined 25.2% in Nassau and 18.1% in Suffolk since 2011-12. Officials and administrators say the main reason is spectator behavior. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports. Credit: Newsday Staff

'Why am I giving up my Friday night to listen to this?' A Newsday analysis shows the number of referees and umpires has declined 25.2% in Nassau and 18.1% in Suffolk since 2011-12. Officials and administrators say the main reason is spectator behavior. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports.

A Newsday analysis shows the number of referees and umpires has declined 25.2% in Nassau and 18.1% in Suffolk since 2011-12. Officials and administrators say the main reason is spectator behavior. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports. Credit: Newsday Staff

'Why am I giving up my Friday night to listen to this?' A Newsday analysis shows the number of referees and umpires has declined 25.2% in Nassau and 18.1% in Suffolk since 2011-12. Officials and administrators say the main reason is spectator behavior. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports.

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