HomeSchool Board Approves Child-Care Provider

School Board Approves Child-Care Provider

The San Marino Unified School District has contracted with a company to provide child-care services for its employees and other essential workers.
By a vote of 4-1, the SMUSD Board of Education on July 21 approved a pact with Right at School, a child-care vendor that provides services to youngsters from transitional kindergarten through 8th grade.
Right at School began providing services in San Marino on the first day of the school year, Aug. 12, in a former STEM lab at Valentine Elementary School, while district students receive instruction via distance learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The service is currently being used by “less than 10” young people, according to district Superintendent Jeff Wilson, who connected Right at School with the SMUSD based on his experience with the company when he was an assistant superintendent with the Arcadia Unified School District.
“They are a vendor,” Wilson said in a phone interview this week. “They pay their own employees and then revenue-share with the SMUSD.” Wilson said that the contract calls for Right at School to contribute 5% of its revenues to the district.
“The main reason we are creating this day-care program is for the children of school district employees,” Wilson said. “You can either run your own program or you can outsource it to someone else. They pay their own workers, do their own training and have their own health standards.”
Right at School maintains a 12-1 student-chaperone ratio and cleans all facilities to Centers for Disease Control standards, according to Cindy Lawson, senior director of school partnerships for the firm. It offers before-school and after-school care as well as a combination of both.
“Basically, this is meeting the needs of our essential employees,” said Wilson, who mentioned that he has offered a partnership with the city of San Marino. “In the shift from last spring, we knew we would be looking at a more rigorous experience when school started back up, but in a virtual way. We need teachers to actually teach. I liken it to we would never ask a surgeon to have their 7-year-old child in the operating room. Our teachers need the opportunity to teach.
“This was an opportunity to help our employees first. I then had a conversation with our first responders. If there is space available in our communities and in our schools, it will be available to them, too.”
School board President C. Joseph Chang, who cast the only “no” vote on the matter, voiced reservations regarding the program.
“I am very concerned that kids will be coming to the schools which are closed to students,” Chang said at the meeting. “They are the same age as the kids. I am concerned that it will make parents confused that these kids can come to school but regular students cannot come to school. It is very difficult for me. We are not consistent, we are not sincere. The same campus is doing two things.”
Wilson stated that there is an increased need for child care that was brought on by campus closures related to the pandemic.
“Our teachers are mostly in their [child-rearing] years,” he said. “As we move into a rigorous instructional environment, they are not going to be able to serve their children in their home and serve their students effectively. That’s a real concern. They are going to put their children somewhere.
“As you talk to teachers about the struggles of trying to supervise their own children while at the same time meeting the needs of 24 other kids, what a program like this does, within the technicalities of the law and the fact that we are all essential workers, it gives options that are healthy, that support student learning, support student wellness that keep kids close to where their parents are going to be,” Wilson continued. “If it’s not Right at School, our teachers and our food workers and our maintenance folks and our custodians are going to have to find some place to put their kids.”
Board member Corey Barberie wanted to know who markets the program and who decides whether community members are welcome to use the services, with Wilson responding that it is a decision that can be made by the board.
Board member Lisa Link moved for approval of the project with colleague Chris Norgaard seconding the motion before the 4-1 vote.

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