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.