Keep play schools open
May 19, 2010 | 7379 views | 0 0 comments | 190 190 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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A community effort to save five city-run play schools from closing this June is being seriously hampered by the Parks Department's lack of transparency.

Parks, which runs the five programs, won't say how much the closings will save the city. Until that number- which should be public information- is revealed, community efforts to keep the play schools open beyond next month will be very difficult, if not impossible, to pull off.

How can elected officials and civics effectively fight for the play schools if they don't even know how much additional funding they need to remain open? Or where, exactly, to go looking for it?

Times are tough, but surely the city can find some way to fund the popular early childcare programs beyond this June. Cuts to education, at any level, are simply not acceptable.

In Glendale, the Dry Harbor Playschool has been a community institution for decades; parents who went there as youngsters proudly send their children there today. The program costs roughly $1,300- no small sum for working families struggling to make ends meet.

Nonetheless parents there have said they'll do what it takes to keep it open- up to and including paying more money each year for tuition costs. That selflessness says something about their commitment to the community, and the success of the program.

The offer could even amount to something, if only they knew how much more they'd have to pay. Then, perhaps, parents could organize on the issue. But again, they've been left in the dark on the state of the play school's finances.

Throughout this mess- which erupted weeks ago and shows no signs of ending until the schools are saved (or closed)- the city has not backed down from its position that the cut is a responsible one.

Parks has argued that an abundance of alternative childcare options, such as universal pre-kindergarten, exist today that were not available in the past. While this is true, it ignores the individual value each of these five programs has in its respective community.

Parents who know the school well don't want to start looking for alternative programs, regardless of how close by or inexpensive they may be. When it comes to education and their kids, parents know what they like and they tend to stick with it.

And who can blame them?

A sensible solution to this problem could be found. Parks just needs to say how much money is required to keep the programs open, and then everyone can get to work to ensure that becomes a reality.
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