Friday, April 16, 2010

Baffled re The Kindergarten Hoopla

In regards to my previous post, about my city cutting funding to full day kindergarten so the kids will only be going half days again.... I have been reading and listening to parents' comments about this and saw some things that floored me. Yesterday a parent said that she wishes the City had made their decision sooner so that daycares could make accomodations for the influx of kindergarten aged kids.

This is where I am baffled - we have a certain amount of govt allowed spaces. It is based largely on open floor space. Even if we were told 5 years ago that they were going to cut this, it would not change how many kids my center can have. We can have 21 at a time, no more. If we have more, we are operating in violation of provincial regualtions. Unless we spends tens of thousands adding on an addition (something our small center absolutely cannot afford to do), we would still only have 21 spaces no matter how much notice we received about the K changes. Dayhome companies could recruit more caregivers but it's hard to do that far in advance if they won't be needed until Sept.... So what difference does it make to find out now or sooner? It makes no difference other than now we know that in September, we won't have 8 empty spaces like originally planned (8 kids were going to K). We always have to wait and see how many spaces we will have because some kids don't even go to kindergarten (most do, but some parents keep their kids in our preschool program because our opening and closing hours fit better with their work schedule). So that's about the only change - we have to wait to see what those 8 parents will decide before we know for sure how many spaces we will have. We already know that 1 is keeping her son at the center, so that means 7 parents to wait on. They pay the full fee right now, we aren't going to rush them. We also have some kids who's ages are on the cusp of K in 2010 or K in 2011 and those parents have not decided yet either. Are we supposed to rush them to make this important decision so we can start lining up Sept kids? I think not! Those parents have been with our center for 3-4 years and they are our current families, we are not going to rush them.

Then I saw another parent say that she hopes daycares will give priority to kindergarten kids! I'm sorry, but why does a 5 yr old who's mom is working have more rights than a 2 year old who's mom is working? If we have a waiting list, we call the people from top to bottom, in order of contacting us. The only time we jump rank is if we already have 6 kids under 3 because that's the most we can have, so then we would skip over other 2 yr olds to get to the first 3 year old on the list... other than that, it's first come first served. Why should we tell a mom who calls today for a Sept space for her 2 year old that she might have to wait longer because of all the kindergarten parents? NO ONE has called us to book a space yet, even though they have known since February that this could happen, and even though it was announced 3 days ago that they are cutting for sure. Our phone has not rung with ANYONE putting their kindergarten child on our list. So why on earth would I push aside other parents who are calling, in order to wait til July or August for the panic-stricken parents of 5 year olds to start phoning? That is unfair and not good business practice.

I know, you are probably yawning in boredom at this daycare/kindergarten post, but if you think about it, this is the mentality that spreads through almost everything. People want someone else to 'fix it' for them, instead of being proactive and taking charge of their own lives.

I know it's a pain in the butt, I'm not totally closed minded to what is happening here, and I know that schools have not even decided yet if they are going to be half day or every other day so parents are still waiting for news. There is also question about the availability of after school care for half day kids because they can't exactly take up the gymnasium all afternoon or morning, because the other classes need it! But - I also think about how people just assumed that the govt would take care of everything and despite the job cutbacks, cuts in other programs, constant announcement of deficits and funding losses, people still thought nothing was going to change.

It is also interesting to note that the amount it apparently costs for the City to fund full day kindergarten (according to the newspaper) is almost identical to the amount of money they had to come up with for the teacher's pay rise. Over $800,000 is the tally for both. Hmmmmm.... interesting, wouldn't you say?

Some of the people I saw complaining about kindergarten were also the ones calling for the province NOT to increase royalties on oil and gas companies a couple years ago... they did not want more of their money taken from them (via possible job loss for people in the industry) but then still wanted the govt to cover everything. Make up your minds, people.

Again, I don't like when education seems to be the first thing on the chopping block alongside healthcare in situations like this, because in my mind, schooling, medical care, and transportation are the main things that taxes are supposed to support - but in hard times, decisions have to be made. For our local school district to cover almost a million dollars in teachers salary rise, plus almost another million for full day kindergarten, along with their regular bills was just not on the cards for this term. It may take awhile to build the money back up again, or to set up a better system with more advance warning. Also point to note - I heard about the teachers salary in Feb,,, and it was a week or two later that the boards announced they might have to axe full day K..... coincidence?

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Here is another little thought that I have not seen anyone mention yet -- our city council has HUNDREDS of MILLIONS of dollars sitting in the bank. Why haven't they said they would peel off a teeny million and hand it over to the school boards? I believe they need 1.4 million for the public and catholic boards to run full day. Council wanted to spend over 100 million on a new arena/events center and were bragging about how the money is just sitting there --- since it comes from property taxes, business licenses, utility excess, blah blah blah, it comes from US, the city residents - so why don't they use a tiny fraction of their money to fund full day K for everyone? Not that I am saying they should, but the money is just sitting there and I thought taxes were partly for supporting children's education. So it;'s just an observation...I'm sure the excuse would be that they are not allowed to appropriate funds like that, but since it's city resident's money, maybe we should have a little vote ;)

2 comments:

  1. Great post - my children are way past daycare and kindergarten, but I sympathize with parents and daycare providers in addressing this issue. Cheers.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I like it when certain blogging tories address other issues which can help to develop policy. I think one of the main problems (I am an HR professional among other professions), is that companies need to change their benefit packages to allow for daycare as an option for female staffers. Either as payment of the company contracts out daycare spaces. This is something worth fighting for I believe. (real conservative)

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