Castor town council hesitates on $5,000 request for after school program

Written by Stu Salkeld

Castor town council wants more information about a youth program before deciding on a request to help fund the program in question. The topic was discussed at the July 12 regular meeting of council.

Town Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Christopher Robblee presented councillors with a funding request from the Gus Wetter School After School Program. The letter was sent by Ellyn Schaffner.

“Gus Wetter School has been running a very successful and much needed after school program for students in Grades 1 to 6 and would like to continue operating this service,” stated Schaffner’s letter dated July 5.

“We want the program to be managed by our highly capable and devoted educational assistant, Tess Breum, but because of dwindling budgets, the program has come to a crossroad. 

If we are unable to secure additional funding to help manage the cost of the program, our program may be shut down. The impact of this on our community would be significant.”

Schaffner stated the program offers a place for kids to go after school if their parents are working.

 “The purpose of our after school care program has been to provide a service for parents in need of care, after school, while the students’ parents remain at work or are busy and in need of care,” stated Schaffner.

“We believe that children are our greatest asset and that they deserve a secure environment that offers them the care that they need from a qualified professional.

“Our after school program has been a life-changer for many parents and students. 

“This program strives to meet the physical, social and emotional needs of children who attend by providing age appropriate activities in a safe and caring atmosphere. 

“Our outstanding facilitator has worked to build positive relationships with the students and families and has gone above and beyond providing general supervision.”

Schaffner stated Castor parents don’t have many options for school-aged childcare.

“In Castor, there was a childcare service deficit for children between the ages of 6 to 12 from 3 to 6 p.m. on school days,” stated Schaffner. “Our local recreation centre attempted to implement a program for all kids in the community during the school year 2018-19, without success and we stepped in to provide this.

“Families pay $10 per child per day with any additional siblings in a family at a cost of $5. Our current hope is that the town and county consider assisting us financially with $5,000 respectively, as student numbers ebb and flow. Some days we have 16 students and other days we have one,” she added.

After reading the letter Robblee stated he advised Schaffner to send in this revised version, as the first letter didn’t provide a lot of information. As it turns out, councillors didn’t think this one did either.

During discussion councillors wanted to know where the after school program currently gets its funding, if the funding is indeed getting cut. Both Robblee and Mayor Richard Elhard stated they did not know the answer to that question.

Later, councillors also wanted to know if this program was part of the local daycare. Robblee stated no, as the daycare has some age limits and licensing requirements.

Mayor Elhard stated he would also like to know why there was so much variance between the number of kids showing up for programming day to day.

Councillors agreed through resolution to instruct Robblee to gather more information about the after school program before they made a decision, including the program’s current budget, how it’s currently funded, when the after school program last raised its user fees and more information about its programming.


Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.