Grove City's after-school child care program is back in area schools after having to use alternate locations for nearly 11 weeks.

Grove City's after-school child care program is back in area schools after having to use alternate locations for nearly 11 weeks.

South-Western school officials cut recreational use of school buildings after operating levy failures in May and August. The cost-saving measures sent Grove City parks and recreation officials, who normally hold their after-school child care programs in schools, scrambling for alternate sites.

With the passage of a 7.4-mill continuous levy Nov. 3, the after-school program can return to its ideal state, said city parks and recreation director Kim Conrad.

"To me it's just the ideal situation," she said. "We're just so happy to be back in the school buildings and that the community passed the levy."

The program returned to schools Nov. 16.

Conrad said rent for the alternate after-school program sites increased costs for the program by $10,000.

The after-school program, named Programmed After-school Recreation for Kids (PARK), runs immediately after the school day for students in kindergarten through fourth grade. The city holds the program at Richard Avenue, Highland Park, Buckeye Woods, Monterey and J.C. Sommer elementary schools.

"When the levy failed, we had to move our programs out of those schools," said Megan Williams, an after-school recreation coordinator.

She said the after-school program was held in each school before recreational hours were cut by South-Western school board members.

Between Aug. 26 and Nov. 10, recreation coordinators could not use the schools after classes finished for the day. Instead, South-Western school buses would transport children after school to churches, The Cheer Center at 1761 Gateway Circle and city recreational space, Williams said.

The added logistical burden took recreational time away from the students, decreased enrollment in the program and increased costs for the city, Williams said.

"We never increased the tuition, but (in) the buildings we were using, we had to pay a fee," she said. "It's definitely easier (now) because (before) kids had to be picked up after school by South-Western buses. It's so nice to have (children) in the schools."

Williams said about 200 students were enrolled in the program before recreational hours were cut. Now about 120 students are enrolled.

"Our numbers have decreased since we've been using these alternate locations," said Erin Duffee, an after-school recreation coordinator. "It took a toll on the program, that's for sure."

Duffee said children now can walk to the gymnasium of their schools when class is finished.

Duffee said children enrolled in the recreation program participate in activities to keep them active and to relieve stress after a structured school day. Students play cooperative games, have fitness days and play outdoors on school playground equipment.

The program runs from 3:30 to 6 p.m., Williams said.

"We're glad to be back," Duffee said. "It's convenient for the families. It's convenient for the staff."