WAYNESVILLE, Mo. – Numerous families in Waynesville are on a waitlist for preschool opportunities.

It’s becoming hard for parents, in more ways than one, especially when it comes to being employed.

“We have Williams Early Childhood Center and that is a half-day program on Fort Leonard Wood,” said Waynesville Superintendent Hilary Bales. “This school year we just recently opened Parker Educational Center off-post and that is a two-classrooms-full day. We have about 175 kids on a waiting list.”

Officials with the school district said they are working on long-term solutions.

“One of the things that we’re considering is to build an elementary school on a property that we own on T Highway,” said Bales. “By doing that, we would then be able to open up additional space and classrooms to add preschool at home schools.”

Parents on a waitlist tell Ozarks First that this kind of expansion is necessary.

“I had to stop working and focus on my children,” said LaToya Davis-Romero, who is a military spouse.

It’s especially impacting military families.

“I work a lot with military spouses,” said Tosombra Kimes, who supports the new preschool opportunities. “I work a lot in the community. I know that childcare is such a huge, huge issue. Last year, 41 percent of our spouses said they are underemployed or unemployed. I know that has to do with the lack of care.”

Davis-Romero said other childcare facilities in the area also have limitations.

“Childcare is really expensive,” said Davis-Romero.

The new school would potentially be ready for the 2024-2025 school year.