October 21, 2021

Child care program grows

J.M. McDonald to expand operation to Truxton school

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

Kathie Arnold, president of the Truxton Community Center, stands Thursday inside the Truxton Academy cafeteria. J.M. McDonald Sports Complex will offer an after-school child-care program at the charter school in the fall.

For parents living in Truxton, having their children attend an afterschool program means driving 20 or more minutes to Cortland or Homer or having a neighbor watch over their kids, said Kathie Arnold, the president of the Truxton Community Center.

Come fall, Truxton parents will have another option as the Cortland-Homer After School Program run by J.M. McDonald Sports Complex will expand to operate at Truxton Academy charter school, said Miranda Ponto, the complex’s child care director.

Children in grades 1 to 6 will be able to play games, have a snack and get homework help from SUNY Cortland and other college teaching majors, Ponto said.

“I’m really excited,” she said.

The program is designed for kids to have fun occupying their time while their parents are working, Ponto said. It will use the school’s cafeteria, basketball court, art room, field and a short trail in the woods nearby.

“It’ll be good for both the Truxton area residents who have child care needs but also for” parents in other nearby towns, Arnold said.

Arnold was first approached in February by Sara Petit-McClure, the head of school for Truxton Academy, asking if the Truxton Community Center, which owns the building that houses the school, would want to start an after-school program there.

Arnold liked the idea but said the center didn’t have the resources or the people to host it so she contacted Michael Drake, the operations manager of J.M. McDonald Sports Complex about having a program at the school.

He agreed, toured the facilities and applied for a child-care license for the site.

“I’m very pleased the Truxton Community Center can provide this opportunity to the community,” Arnold said. “It’s great to partner with someone already up and running and has the capacity to do a program like this.”

Ponto said the September opening of the program depends on coronavirus guidelines but feels confident that it will be able to open and host somewhere between 30 and 35 kids per session.

She also said there was a strong possibility that, with health guidelines permitting, the school could host a summer camp in 2021.

“It’s going to be very rewarding once it opens up,” Ponto said.