Centers central

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During his campaign, David Pope said he would like to rebate half the $1.6 million the village gives to the park district, and use the remaining dollars to help support early childhood care.

Pope said he still likes the idea, and would like to work with the district to possibly use a rec center "partially" for that purpose.

"One of the key needs of the community is improved early child care to address the achievement gap," he said. "It is irresponsible to expect [Elementary School] District 97 to assume full responsibility. All taxing bodies need to come together to support this."

The park district comprehensive plan recommended that the district pursue partnering with other local organizations to continue to support the recreation centers. Pope said he sees early child care?#34;or a family resource center?#34;as one optimal component of a multi-use park facility.

Park District Commissioner David Kindler said the park board has not formally discussed the issue. The district was one of the early supporters of the Early Childhood Collaboration, a local organization that addresses child care support, he noted, adding that the district also offers pre-school programs.

"We'd love to talk with the village board and the early childhood collaborative. Nothing's ruled in or out," he said.

However, he cautioned that "some centers are better for some things than others" and that the district is trying to not "put the cart before the horse."

"Early childhood providers need quality space and we don't have the capacity to meet all the need," he said. "There's also parking and other things that we don't want to just dump on a neighborhood."

Some village trustees also said they're not on board with the idea yet.

"We know there's a need for early childhood care in some segments of our community, but we have to be careful with our expenses," said Trustee Ray Johnson. "It's a discussion that has to happen with our school boards. I'm not ready to sign onto a program at this stage."

Milstein said he doesn't believe it's "the board's role" but he's "not opposed to considering" the idea.

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