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The Learning Centers program of Wilson County Schools will continue to undergo changes this year as the district will change operations at five locations.

The district will consolidate four Learning Center locations — West, Lakeview and W.A. Wright elementary schools and West Wilson Middle School — and the Stoner Creek Elementary School will convert into a Pre-K program.

The district will have seven Learning Center locations this year at Elzie Patton, Rutland and Watertown and Southside elementary schools, as well as Lebanon, Wilson Central and Mt. Juliet high schools. Learning Centers provide childcare for Wilson County Schools employees.

Wilson County Schools spokesperson Bart Barker said the same number of spots (226) would be available for children this year as last year.

“For the sites that have been consolidated, and affected staff at those sites — those staff members will get a new assigned site based on where they live,” Barker said.

He said the decision to consolidate the centers was based on new regulations set forth by the state, which he said were handed down June 18.

“At that point, planning was underway to maintain TLC services at facilities that would be in compliance by the time school started. The facilities that were consolidated lacked a few items – particularly bathroom sinks in changing rooms. To install proper plumbing at these sites would have been quite costly, if even feasible,” Barker said.

The district voted to increase Learning Center rates by $60 per week in a special called meeting last year. The centers’ current rates for children up to 36 months is $195 per week, and $185 for children 37-60 months.

Wilson County Director of Schools Donna Wright said she made the recommendation based on a survey passed around to teachers. The alternative to the $60 increase was a $30 weekly increase, but consolidate centers at Carroll Oakland School, and W.A. Wright, Lakeview and Mt. Juliet elementary schools.

In 2017, the board learned the program was not breaking even financially, but was being subsidized by the Kids Club program.

Board member Bill Robinson said last year he believed the district could have found the funds to cover the cost of the program shortage (about $350,000 at the time).

All board members agreed closing the program was not an option, saying it was introduced as a retainment tool for teachers.

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