The Bangor Region YMCA and some Winterport families want to reverse a decision by the district’s superintendent to move the Y’s Winterport after-school program out of the Leroy H. Smith School to make room for a competitor.
The Y this week made that request to the Regional School Unit 22 board in a letter signed by its board members and accompanied by a petition with the signatures of 25 Winterport parents who have children at the Smith School.
The RSU 22 board discussed the letter at its meeting Wednesday night and will continue to consider it at an Aug. 7 meeting, according to chairperson Karen Hawkes of Hampden.
The superintendent of RSU 22, Rick Lyons, has entered an agreement with Champions, a division of the for-profit company KinderCare, to offer before- and after-school programs in some Winterport and Hampden schools, along with summer programs.
To create space for Champions in the Smith School, Lyons also decided to move the Y’s after-school program in Winterport about a mile away to the Samuel L. Wagner Middle School and to provide bus service for students at the Smith School who use the programs.
But that decision has not sat well with Y officials who said they were not consulted about it and some families.
“We are absolutely supportive and in favor of choice and competition,” the organization said in its letter to the RSU 22 board this week. “The real question for us is why should we have to be the program that is kicked out of Smith School where we have been for 10 years to allow a new company to come in?”
Hawkes said that the RSU 22 board values the work that the Y has done in Winterport.
“We don’t know what decision we’ll make right now,” Hawkes said. “We aren’t comfortable overturning a superintendent’s decision until we have more information, and we also have to see how families are being served by the Champions program. We know no matter what decision we make, there will be families who are negatively impacted.”
Hawkes also said that while Lyons had the legal authority to enter the agreement with Champions and allow it to use the Y’s location, he and his staff should have been more open with the board about how the change would affect district families.
“It was concerning that the board didn’t know more information before the decision was made, but they’re also not required to come to the board,” she said.