Parents urge district to reconsider daycare closures

August 25, 2010 5:44:29 PM PDT
A group of Oakland parents is protesting the upcoming closure of child development centers and after-school programs because of state budget cuts.

The Jefferson Child Development Center in Oakland will shut its doors on Friday and that means all preschoolers will be redirected to other sites.

Also affected will be students in grades 1-3 who will not have a nearby after-school program. The closest one is 10 blocks away and they will have to transfer there.

Henry Hitz is with Oakland Parents Together, a non-profit and parents support group.

"I think we are going to have a lot of latchkey children who are going to come home from school and hopefully will make it home alright and maybe mom calls, but it's risky," he said.

In all, 800 students will be affected by the closure of seven centers. The school district says it cannot afford to keep them open.

"We're dealt a really bad hand by the government which continues to cut," Troy Flint from the Oakland School District said.

Louise Jacobson has been a pre-school teacher at Jefferson for 32 years.

"We are laying a foundation for these kids to go to the next level which is elementary schools," she said.

But again, the preschoolers will be transferred to another center and so will she. Working parents say it's convenient to have an after-school program next to their elementary school.

"I cannot afford to pay private and I am going to have to quit my job," head teacher Norma Nunez said.

Oakland Parents Together has come up with a possible solution to try to keep the after school program opened by putting volunteers at the centers until the budget is passed and funds restored.

"We are going to make sure everyone is fingerprinted, we are going to make sure that everyone has a TB test," Hitz said.

But the district says from a legal standpoint, that's not practical.

"That could threaten our licensing and our ability to operate all the centers," Flint said.

Everyone hopes the Legislature will restore these cuts, so that the centers will eventually reopen.


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