JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – More than a hundred parents lined up early Friday morning outside a Jacksonville elementary school in hopes of signing up their children for the school's Extended Day Program.
With a limited number of spots in the program, dozens of parents even camped out overnight at Alimacani Elementary School in the San Pablo neighborhood as they waited for registration to open at 7 a.m.
"It's almost like a lottery -- you get a ticket. If you don't, you don't win. Or (it's like) Black Friday -- that's a good thing to call it," mother Malissa Richter said. "It's kind of disheartening because we have to get up so early in the morning to be here. I have to request off work every year for this. It's a production."
Many parents said the hourslong wait was well worth it. Another mother, Rachel Ross, shared with News4Jax her reasons for waiting in the long line, which neighbors described as being out of control.
"One, the affordability, and, two, that it's at the same location that they attend school, so they don't have to go to a third location or trust any third-party transportation," Ross said. "It's a one-stop shop."
Giving parents convenience and peace of mind, the Extended Day Program allows students in kindergarten through fifth grade to attend school as early as 7 a.m. and stay as late as 6 p.m.
The monthly cost is a total of $152. Many parents said it's cheaper than sending their children to day care, which is why it's such a popular option for families.
"We have to work. We have to make ends meet," father Stephen Ramsdell said. "We're standing in line so we can go to work."
The director of the program at Alimacani Elementary said the school has one of Duval County Public Schools' larger Extended Day programs, with 250 spots split between grades.
Most elementary schools in the district offer the program, but parents said there's not enough spots. They want the school district to hire more staff so they can accommodate more students while parents are at work.
"This is a little ridiculous," Ramsdell said. "They need a different process."
The director of the Extended Day Program at Alimacani Elementary told News4Jax that while there were some spots available as of late Friday morning, other grades had already filled up -- starting a waiting list.
Registration was scheduled to take place from 7 a.m. until 1 p.m. Friday in the media center at Alimacani Elementary on San Pablo Road South. But the director said they'll continue to register students until all the spots are filled.
Though the director would not reveal which grades were already filled up, he said parents would be notified if their children will be on a waiting list so they can make other arrangements.
DCPS Extended Day Program
Parents with children who attend other Duval County schools should contact the schools for registration dates.
The district's Extended Day Program allows students in grades kindergarten through fifth grade to arrive to school as early as 7 a.m. and stay as late as 6 p.m. on school days.
TO REGISTER: 2018-19 DCPS Extended Day enrollment forms
According to DCPS, it is classified as an enrichment program and is considered an extension of the school day -- not day care.
The program was implemented to supplement and broaden the educational enrichment opportunities of DCPS students. They are designed to enrich the lives of students educationally, socially, culturally, emotionally, and physically, while affording parents this service at a reasonable fee.
-Duval County Public Schools
The Extended Day Program is a fee-based program. Monthly fees for the 2018-19 school year are as follows:
- A.M. session: $52
- P.M. session: $100
- A.M. & P.M. session: $152
Parents can find more information about the district's Extended Day Program by visiting dcps.duvalschools.org.