Sara Ahl, former principal at Brookside Elementary School in Oak Park, has been appointed to serve as the director of extended care in the Oak Park Unified School District.
The post was created when the board of education voted in January to part from Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District and run its own child care program. Rancho Simi had operated the Oak Park program for 35 years.
Following the split—and worried about a loss of revenues— Rancho Simi officials announced a cutback in services provided to the Oak Park community, a move that drew complaints from residents.
In addition to new leadership, the program that Oak Park has taken in-house received a name change. Instead of the AM/PM Club it is now called Club Oak Park. The new program will begin operation Aug. 7, the first day of school.
Ahl took the helm as director of the child care program in March, but continued as Brookside principal through the end of the school year.
Erin Vranesh, the incoming Brookside principal, started her new job July 1.
The revamped after-school program filled up fast. In all, about 650 students have registered for the club, which will run at Brookside, Oak Hills and Red Oak elementary schools as well as Medea Creek Middle School. Ahl said the after-school care is intended to serve students from kindergarten through eighth grade.
The program is not profit driven, Ahl said.
“Our intent is to invest revenue into the program to provide the highest possible quality care for the students of Oak Park,” she said.
Plans are underway to offer families a “summer gap” program starting in May 2019 after school lets out.
The summer program will run for the first three weeks of the summer break “to help families bridge the time between the end of the school year and the opening of most local summer camps,” Ahl said.
Oak Park schools close in May and open in early August. Summer camps generally begin in mid-June.
Ahl said families will be able to customize the program to fit their needs. Part-time and fulltime sessions will be paid for by the month, and a fee schedule for drop-in options is under development. The price is reduced by 5 percent for siblings, and the program will also run during spring and winter breaks as well as on teacher prep days.
“We are very excited to launch this program and serve the families of OPUSD,” Ahl said. “Our goal is to provide a program that not only meets the child care needs of all of our families, but that also offers a wide range of engaging and enriching activities within a caring and nurturing environment.”