Parents march against child care centers closure


Parent support group Oakland Parents Together and families of students from the childcare centers are holding a press conference before marching to the 5 p.m. board meeting.

Students will speak during the public comment period at the board meeting, said Laurice Brown, a parent of students at the Manzanita childcare center and an Oakland Parents Together spokeswoman.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in May proposed cutting state-funded child development centers. The legislature has yet to pass a state budget, and school districts were required to submit their budgets by June 30, Brown said.

"With the cuts on the table there was no guaranteed funding," Brown said. "The school district had to go ahead and operate as if they were not getting the state funding."

The Oakland child care centers at risk of closing are Manzanita, Hintil, Sante Fe, Jefferson, Piedmont, Sequoia and Golden Gate. More than 700 preschool and school-age children would be affected if the centers in question were shut down, Brown said.

Last month, Oakland schools tapped $400,000 in one-time federal stimulus funds to keep the child care centers open to school-age children until the end of August, school district spokesman Troy Flint said. The stimulus money was originally designated for professional development at Title 1 schools for low-income students, he added.

The stimulus funds were not used to keep the child care centers open to preschool children, who were moved to other sites as previously planned, Flint said. School-age children can transition to the district's after-school programs if the doors to the child care centers are closed at the end of this month, Flint said.

Enrollment for the after-school programs was held in the spring, and those are already at capacity, Brown said.

"It doesn't address the before-school care," Brown said. "The parents are still fighting to keep the doors open because we don't know what's going to happen when the budget passes."

The Board of Education meeting will be held at school district headquarters at 1025 Second Ave., Oakland.

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