A pending agreement between the city of Bexley Recreation and Parks Department and the Bexley City Schools for the city to provide a child care program for the schools may hinge on the purchase of a bus.

A pending agreement between the city of Bexley Recreation and Parks Department and the Bexley City Schools for the city to provide a child care program for the schools may hinge on the purchase of a bus.

The Bexley school board approved an agreement at its April 11 meeting for the recreation department to become the district's child care provider before and after school, taking over from the current provider, the YMCA.

At their April 26 meeting, Bexley City Council members discussed the second reading of an ordinance that would appropriate $94,993 from the city's recreation fund to implement a "Before and After Care" program for 2016, beginning in August.

Council members discussed whether to approve Recreation Director Michael Price's request to purchase a 30-passenger bus, or whether a smaller, 15-passenger bus would accommodate the program's current enrollment. Current enrollment is estimated at an average of 91 students participating in the program each month during the 2014-15 school year, the most recent period for which the YMCA has provided figures, according to Price.

Price estimates that a smaller bus would cost $35,000, half the price of the cost of the 30-passenger bus, which is estimated at $70,000, amortized over six years.

Council President Tim Madison said he isn't comfortable authorizing the purchase of a 30-passenger bus, since current enrollment numbers for the program would match a smaller bus.

"It just doesn't seem right to me that the city would allocate an extra $35,000, when we don't need $35,000 today, and I'm not convinced a bigger bus is going to benefit us," Madison said.

Purchasing the 30-passenger bus would ultimately be more cost-effective because it would enable the recreation department to transport more children if program enrollment expands and to use the bus for other recreation programs, Price said.

"I think it's fair to say that if we provide a good program, there's room an opportunity for some growth" in the Before and After Care enrollment, Price said.

Councilwoman Lori Ann Feibel said she agrees that parents who already enroll their children in Recreation and Parks programs may want to try the Before and After Care program, which could increase enrollment.

"My thought is that there's so much good in this whole idea, that these working parents are going to have this one-stop shop, that I would think there's a great possibility that these numbers will be higher," she said. "I would hate for us to sell ourselves short by buying a bus that's smaller than what we need."

Giving parents the option to register their children on a per-day basis, rather than requiring them to enroll for the entire month, could increase enrollment, Price said.

"We're providing an opportunity to register for the day, which would be more cost-effective," he said.

"We might have a new clientele that would utilize this program than had utilized it previously."

Councilwoman Deneese Owen, chairwoman of the finance committee, suggested the city begin seeking bids for the purchase of a bus and ask that the bid include pricing for both a 15- and a 30-passenger van.

The school board's agreement states that the Recreation and Parks Department will operate licensed child care centers at Montrose Elementary School from 7 a.m. until school begins and from school dismissal to 6 p.m., and at Maryland Elementary School from school dismissal until 6 p.m. As currently written, the agreement between the city and the school district would be for one year with an option for annual renewal.

The third and final reading of the ordinance is scheduled for council's meeting on Tuesday, May 10, at 6 p.m. at Bexley City Hall, 2242 E. Main St.