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Compass: A new direction for students to go before, after school

Parents looking for after school or before school care for their school-aged children now have another option.

Compass, a Community Education program, is now being offered at each of the elementary schools within School District 206.

The program has been offered in the past at Carlos and Garfield elementary schools, but this year, Compass is being offered at all the elementary schools.

Susan Scarborough, Community Education director, said that currently, the program serves more than 230 students and that there are 17 staff members.

Compass offers before and after school programming at each of the elementary schools based on enrollment. Although it is being offered at all the schools, there is not a program running at Miltona because there was not enough of a need, said Scarborough.

The before school program runs from 6 a.m. until school starts and the after school program runs from the end of the school day until 6 p.m.

Because School District 206 restructured its boundaries and eliminated transfer buses in order to save the district money, Scarborough said Community Education made the decision to offer the Compass program to all elementary schools.

The Compass program is also being offered on non-school days from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. when school is closed for conferences, workshops and during fall, winter and spring breaks. If there are not enough students registered at one site, the sites will be combined.

Stephanie Grimes from Community Education, who works with the Compass program, explained that the morning program is more relaxed. Students can receive help with their homework, there is time for recreation and a time for breakfast.

The after school program, however, is a little more structured, she said.

Students meet in the cafeteria for an after school snack, provided by the school district's food service department so it's nutritious. Then, there is time for recreation so students can unwind from their day. There is also time for homework, reading and enrichment activities, such as through the cooking club, 4-H science program or gardening.

Scarborough noted that Community Education has partnerships set up throughout the community, including with Lakes Area Recreation, Douglas County Extension Service and the master gardener program.

Grimes explained that for the fees that are charged, Community Education looked at what other centers were charging, along with what in-home daycares were charging so that the Compass program would stay in line.

Scarborough said, "We don't want to undercut, but we want to keep it reasonable."

The fees are based on if there is a set schedule or a varied schedule, the number of children and other factors.

For example, if one child enrolls in the morning program at Voyager Elementary School fives day a week, the fee would be $21.50 per week. If that same child enrolls in the afternoon program, the total for five days would be $24.50. For both the morning and afternoon program, the total per week, for five days, would be $46.

As for the Compass staff members, Scarborough and Grimes noted they are current District 206 paraprofessionals, who know the students and the schools.

Scarborough said the staff members were excited about the program and offered suggestions for different projects students could do while in the after school program.

Scarborough also explained that the Compass program is not in the business of being in competition with any other form of childcare, such as centers or in-home daycares.

"We are just offering another option for parents. It is a family's choice," she said. "We are not selling the program. It is a service we are providing. We rely on best practices for the kids."

Grimes said, "We are providing a safe place for students to be before or after school. A fun place for them to hang out with their peers."

For more information about Compass, contact the Community Education office at (320) 762-3310.


Compass offers before and after school programming for students in K-6 at each of the District 206 elementary buildings based on enrollment. Before school programming runs from 6 a.m. until school starts and after school care runs from the end of the school day until 6 p.m.

Compass also offers non-school day programming from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. when school is closed for conference days, workshops and fall, winter and spring breaks. The program is not offered on holidays.

Program features: Staffed by District 206 staff; balance between structured activities and self-directed learning; arts, crafts, games, social time and recreational activities; nutritious snacks served daily in the afternoon (breakfast available through student meal account); homework help and/or reading time; indoor and outdoor activities; and enrichment classes and clubs available to students to explore their interest in science, math, art, language and more.