News

Parents angered over proposed childcare changes

New leases will replace The Growing Room at several schools

Three San Ramon Valley Unified elementary schools may see changes to on-site childcare providers as the district's Board of Education votes to approve new leases at its Tuesday meeting. Several parent groups associated with The Growing Room, which operates at six schools, are angered by a decision process they have called less-than-transparent.

Seven elementary schools, whose childcare provider leases have expired or are set to expire, formed selection committees to determine need and efficacy of the current business. Made up of one administrator (usually a principal), one teacher, three parents who do not utilize daycare and two who do, the committees will make the following recommendation to the board:

*Golden View Elementary: Recommends switching providers from The Growing Room to the YMCA

*Tassajara Hills Elementary: Recommends switching providers from The Growing Room to Kids' Country

*Twin Creeks Elementary: Recommends switching providers from The Growing Room to Kids' Country

*Creekside Elementary: Recommends keeping Kids' Country as its current provider

*Alamo School: Recommends staying with the YMCA

*Rancho Romero Elementary: Recommends staying with the YMCA

*Neil Armstrong Elementary: Recommends staying with The Growing Room

"We are the only childcare service that will be losing schools," said Growing Room Executive Director Kim Lewis, adding that members of the selection committees signed confidentiality agreements. "Because the process has not been transparent, we are not sure exactly why this is happening, but we do know that the district is ignoring the voices of the families that they are here to represent.

"It is our sincerest hope that the recommended childcare provider changes will not be approved…as they are not in the best interest of the children in our community," she continued.

Rinta Perkins, a Tassajara Hills parent whose son also attends The Growing Room, said she didn't know who was on her school's selection committee and expressed frustration at the district's assessment process, which included a 600-person electronic survey.

"I think the process is flawed, there is a lack of subjectivity in the selection (committee)," Perkins said. "The notification is not inclusive. If you're not really paying attention or are involved in it, you're not informed. I don't think notice has been sent out to all the impacted parents, all the stakeholders."

Growing Room Vice President Jaclyn Larson said the judging process itself was equally murky, with each committee only given an hour and a half to read seven 40-page reports from different childcare providers. The committees were not asked whether they would be interested in keeping the current employees of the care program, she noted.

"The district went to great lengths to make it seem like the decision was fairly handled….Unfortunately, the committees could only ask questions of the providers that were district questions. And most committees were not given time to read any material from the providers and had to make a decision with a few short days, with one committee given only a couple of hours to make the decision," Larson wrote in an email.

But Superintendent Steven Enoch maintains that the district "bent over backward" to be fair, conducting five or six public meetings about this issue over two years and not having a hand in choosing the selection committees. Committee members had to ask "district questions" to level the playing field, he said.

"For whatever reason the parents saw other providers as better meeting their needs. At the end of the day, the results need to be looked at, respected and honored," Enoch said. "Even if people don't like the result, I hope they will at least be appreciative of the process. At the end of the day these committees made recommendations based on everything they read, they saw, they heard."

Larson and Perkins -- who is among several parents from different schools circulating a petition that would have the Board of Education re-review the recommendations -- say parents are satisfied with The Growing Room's service. The Growing Room program is different than Kids' Country's or the YMCA, Larson said.

"Regardless of whether our staff is there our not, our management styles are completely different, what we do with the kids is completely different," Larson said.

"Growing Room has always been willing to work with the district and principals on anything asked; The Growing Room has consistently lower prices than the other providers; the Growing Room's themed programs align with the district's Framework of Excellence Program where other providers have little or no themes and they currently do not offer the same alignment and outreach with the District," she continued in an email.

The Growing Room employs approximately 25 people at the three schools set to change providers and, Larson said, there is no framework set for the July 1 change.

"That's half of our business they took away. Our first concern is our employees because some have been there for 17,18 year and they're very good. Our second concern, of course, is the children in our care because we love them," Larson said. "We're thinking of ways to scramble and offer our employees ways to stay on and care for these children."

Superintendent Enoch said he would have been fine with the schools keeping their current childcare providers and said the district added new provisions on each proposal about how much rates could increase.

"The district really had no skin in this game expect to make sure that parents are getting the best in childcare," he said. "The process…has been abundantly fair, abundantly transparent and the results are the results."

The SRVUSD Board of Education will meet at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at the district offices (699 Old Orchard Drive, Danville) and the public is invited to attend and comment.

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Phil
a resident of Danville
on Mar 5, 2012 at 8:49 pm

This is an interesting story that I've kept tabs on for over a year since Kids Country lost children last year, but the district looked the other way. Now it is clear to me that the district is manipulating the system (something that they do very well), and trying to force The Growing Room which is a good company out of business. Kids Country shouldn't have even been allowed to bid because they are on probation with the State of California. Our school board apparently wants low quality child care in the schools. I don't believe that the process was fair and unbiased. I have come to expect nothing less of this school board and its leaders.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mary
a resident of Danville
on Mar 5, 2012 at 10:28 pm

As for the Golden View change, is this a way for the district to regain ownership of the GR space or perhaps a way for the principal to attempt to gain more control and influence? In a district that talks about anti-bullying, the leadership is underhandedly bullying left and right. From the superintendent to principal at Golden View. (Ever hear the way she talks down to the kids?)


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Andrew
a resident of San Ramon
on Mar 6, 2012 at 7:13 am

Wake up folks! You are dealing with public school entities that will never reveal their true agenda to you. But be sure to vote for bond measures so they have the money to contInue their nefarious plans.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by SRVUSD Parent
a resident of San Ramon
on Mar 6, 2012 at 2:35 pm

BTW... Check out Kids Country's rates on their website... they are higher than the Growing Room. And the YMCA doesn't offer part-time care. What's going to happen to those hourly families care? Why is the School Board rushing to make a decision. There certainly wasn't enough time given to review all the information, nor have a committee who didn't represent the "parent body as a whole" make a recommendation based on criteria given to them to go off of by the school board. Mr. Enoch don't say you don't have a hand in this process, because the questions came from you/the board. How can a facility on PROBATION get 2 additional sites? Where's the QUALITY child care going to come from? What's going to happen to our children who love their teachers & the teachers that love them back?
The Cities within the SRVUSD say to SHOP LOCAL.... well, YMCA is based out of Richmond and doesn't have a proven track record.

Its unfair, no matter how you look at it. Making the committee sign a confidentiality statement regarding the selection process & how it's decided.... hmmmm, doesn't sound transparent to me! Don't let people lose their jobs, our children lose trust, and we the parents lose the faith we tried to have in our school board to do what's right and fair!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Dave
a resident of Danville
on Mar 6, 2012 at 3:18 pm

More after-school day car sites being taken over by Kids Country? By an organization that has lost huge amounts of money over the past few years, has been sued for age and race discrimination by the older Filipina teachers that it fired, and has been put on probation by the State of California for serious violations at its sites. That sounds like a smart move!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Danville mom
a resident of Danville
on Mar 6, 2012 at 3:28 pm

Nobody will care for your kids as you can.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jeff
a resident of Blackhawk
on Mar 7, 2012 at 7:53 am

@Danville mom - duh!! we all know that. That's not the point of this thread.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Denise
a resident of Blackhawk
on Mar 7, 2012 at 3:47 pm

I disagree. Well rounded kids have exposure to different caregivers and activities. The Growing Room provides fantastic care and fun activities for my little ones, things they could do right along with their friends as they develop social skills.

As long as the caregiver is loving and close to the parent and child, it just provides another source of love for the child.

Remember: It takes a village.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Pedal Power
a resident of Danville
on Mar 7, 2012 at 10:16 pm

There is so much here that doesn't make sense.
1. Go back to the start of the selection process and look at the makeup of the committee: "Made up of...three parents who do not utilize daycare and two who do". I'm having a hard time seeing the rationale behind giving 50% more voting power to people who have zero stake in the outcome.
2. "the parents saw other providers as better meeting their needs" implies that the administrator/principal and teacher, who had as many votes as the real stakeholders, had no influence. Maybe this is right since the parents with no stake in the outcome comprised the biggest voting block.
3. Confidentiality agreements - why?
4. "the committees could only ask..district questions" may make sense if daycare providers were bidding on district-wide care but, based on the outcome, they obviously weren't.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Douglas
a resident of Blackhawk
on Mar 8, 2012 at 4:58 pm

(Also posted on related story: School district will accept childcare changes, pending legal consultation)

The thing that none of us will ever really know about is what is going on behind the scenes. I have never used either so have no skin in the game, but I have no doubt that money is the driving factor with this whole mess. I fully believe Hurd, Enoch and the rest of them are probably getting some kind of kick back from Kids' Country, but had to go through this sham process in order to make it look kosher. The board does not look out for the best interests of our children with the providers they chose for them. Just look at the change from our old food provider to Chartwell's. My daughter can't stomach the food Diablo Vista is now serving. It is all about money, folks, and what is best for our narcissistic board members and their pockets. Rachel Hurd shouldn't even be on the board trying to tell us what is best for our children after the drinking incident with her son. That is complete hypocrisy!!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by SALLY
a resident of Danville
on Mar 9, 2012 at 10:56 am

I HAVE BEEN A BABYSITTER FOR 10 YEARS IN DANVILLE AND WILL BE GLAD TO COME TO YOUR HOUSE AND PICK UP YOUR KIDS AT SCHOOL
danvillesally@yahoo.com


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Member
a resident of San Ramon
on Mar 9, 2012 at 3:52 pm

Sign the petition!
Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Lisa
a resident of Danville
on Mar 10, 2012 at 3:59 pm

The BOD voted unanamously to go with the recommendations of the RFP committee. The petition is rather a waste of time.


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