Augusta Area School District receives donation for early learning facility

Published: Sep. 30, 2022 at 7:42 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

AUGUSTA, Wis. (WEAU) - As parents throughout western Wisconsin are struggling to find child care, school districts are looking to help fill the gap.

The Augusta Area School District plans to launch its early childhood learning program in November. It plans to begin using a temporary facility at the Augusta Senior Center serving about 50 kids.

Recently, the district’s quest to find a permanent home got a big boost when Augusta resident and district alum Jennifer Bethke made a multimillion dollar donation to the district to build its own facility that will also offer before and after school programs for kids up to age 12.

“Our community here in Augusta is similar to a lot of other communities here in the area in that the daycare and the before and after school care, childcare, the demand for it is significant and the supply just can’t meet that,” said District Administrator Ryan Nelson.

That’s why the district will soon offer early childhood education.

Katie Hagen is leading the district’s new childcare program.

She said getting kids into school before kindergarten sets them up for success when they get there.

“It’s a great starting point, especially that social aspect where they get to be with other children outside their home,” she said. “They get to experience, you know, being in that group setting and how the different routines that they have to follow. That will truly line up with what they meet.”

The district was already planning facility that would host up to 150 kids before Bethke announced her donation. Her generosity will allow the district to get started quicker on the facility on school property.

“The generosity that Ms. Bethke has continued to display towards the school and the community and her desire to continue to improve the community for families is really quite mind-boggling,” Nelson said.

He said the plan is to open the new facility in early 2024.

Earlier this year, Bethke donated $2.5 million so the district could build a new auditorium.