PERU — Regional School Unit 56 directors Tuesday approved hiring a grant writer to apply for $250,000 for after-school programs at Dirigo elementary and middle schools.

Superintendent Pam Doyen said a federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant funded art, science, technology and fitness programs at the elementary school until last year when the application was not rejected because of “technical” errors.

“We would like to pursue this next round of grant applications for the elementary school and the middle school, so we would have two locations,” but still have one bus run bringing them home, Doyen said.

She estimated it would cost from $1,000 to $2,000 to hire a grant writer.

Doyen, who is also principal of Dirigo High School in Dixfield, said neither she, nor middle school Principal Jason Long, or Dirigo Elementary School Principal Charlie Swan have the time to write a full grant at this time.

In other business, the board voted to partner with directors of a local Head Start program in seeking a grant for child care on school property.

Kim Bessette and Dianne Nelder of Community Concepts told the board they were approached by administrators from Region 9 School of Applied Technology in Mexico last fall about the possibility of creating a Head Start program for infant and toddler care in RSU 56, which includes Canton, Carthage, Dixfield and Peru.

Head Start is a federal program by the Department of Education offering of child care services, education and social services for families of infants and children up to 5 years old.

Nelder, the director of children’s services at Community Concepts, said their Head Start program covers Oxford and Franklin counties. It is among the largest Head Start programs in Maine with 15 locations including Rumford, where they have three to four classrooms of 16 to 18 each for 3- and 4-year-olds, she said.

With the board’s support Tuesday, the Head Start administrators said they will apply for a grant that could potentially add two early Head Start classrooms in the district’s buildings. The administrators also said they could ask for enough money to build another building if it was needed.

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