Day care center opening

By Ruthann Carr

It was a lovely day to welcome one of Fluvanna’s newest businesses: the Learning Ladder Academy.

A number of supporters gathered Thursday (July 9) at the new day care at 3739 Lake Monticello Road for a ribbon-cutting/ open house to help owner Pandora Trent celebrate.

“This has been a dream come true,” Trent said as she held the giant scissors before cutting the scarlet ribbon. “I want to thank everyone for coming.   My mom (Geneva Trent) has been my greatest cheerleader, always telling me ‘You can do it. You can do it.’ So I’m dedicating this to her.”

Trent gave tours of her new space, which can hold 32.

The academy, she said, takes children from infants to 15-year-olds of all skills and needs level.

Trent has a heart for special needs children and already has plans to expand to another building for just those students.

The academy doesn’t have a one price fits all fee schedule. Tuition ranges from $100-$330 weekly, per child, according the website. Tuitions may be higher or lower, depending on the family’s needs and circumstances, it states.

The Fluvanna Chamber of Commerce welcomed Learning Ladder Academy to the business community.

“It’s always great to add another small, woman-owned minority business,” Rudy Garcia said.

Fluvanna Economic Development Coordinator Bryan Rothamel said it was good to welcome a new childcare center to Fluvanna.

“I’m realizing more and more how important childcare is to the community,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Trent, Garcia and Rothamel, along with owners of other Fluvanna day care centers and private schools, met virtually to discuss how their service will fit into the public schools re-opening plans.

Don Stribling, executive director of human resources/student services/operations, chaired the meeting put together by Garcia.

As it stood at the time of the meeting, Stribling said the public school plans to re-open Aug. 17 with a “hybrid model.” Students with last names beginning with A through K will attend school Mondays and Tuesdays; L through Z, Tuesdays and Fridays.

Wednesday will be a home learning day for all, Stribling said.

“That is hopefully a structure of learning created by each individual family,” Stribling said. “But that doesn’t necessarily mean spending 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.  in front of a computer.”

Stribling asked each of the people on the call to fill in a spread sheet about their school or day care center with contact information, and any special notes that could help parents know about their services.

“We want to get information from you about what opportunities are available in our community for childcare. We will get this sent out to all parents,” he said.

Stribling told the group FCPS will provide all its students with a Chrome book and thumb drive.

“Just one-on-one, if one of my children was at your facility and you were offering to help them with work, I sure would let them take it to your facility,” Stribling said. “We can make all of these things learning opportunities.”

He said in the first survey sent out to 3400 parents, 27 percent of them (about 800 students) said they would choose full virtual learning.

FCPS is sending out a second survey this week.

They are asking parents who choose full virtual learning over the hybrid schedule, to commit to nine weeks.

Stribling predicted they will know much more about how well they’ve contained any spread of the novel coronavirus after the first semester of school.

Ideally the goal is to evaluate every four weeks and bring as many children as possible back to at least four days a week of at school instruction.

Director of Fluvanna County Social Services Kim Mabe said with both her and her husband working full time they are considering enrolling their child in private school.

“My concern is with all these kids whose parents can’t afford the supplemental cost (of childcare or private school); many parents will leave their kids with inadequate care.”

When asked about the availability of childcare subsidies, Mabe had bad news.

“We don’t have any more subsidy funds,” she said. “New ones (applying for a subsidy) go on a wait list and have to wait for someone to get off the list.”

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