On campus child care Schools & Kids, posted by Lisa, a member of the Tassajara Hills Elementary School community, on Mar 3, 2012 at 8:32 am
I heard that a "committee" selected Kids Country to throw The Growing Room out of several schools this week. I don't believe for a second that a "committee" of parents would chose a program with a record of violations, poor care and management to oust a great program like The Growing Room. Something doesn't smell right. Does anyone out there know what is really going on with Kids Country and the district? Why do they want Kid's Country to have a monopoly? I would have expected the results of the contract renewals to be completely different if they really cared about the students.
Posted by Sylvia, a resident of the San Ramon neighborhood, on Mar 3, 2012 at 9:21 pm
Scroll down to Page 2 of these postings, under "Students make Canine Valentines" and you will see some recent comments about the situation. This is very disturbing that our School District would be a party to such an action where the quality program is thrown out and the company with violations and on probation would be awarded a contract, knowing that the cost will rise and the quality will be lowered further. Has anyone asked what Kid's Country is doing about their employees - laying off people over the summer does not bring higher quality teachers. There is chaos in the school child care system.
Posted by [removed], a resident of another community, on Mar 4, 2012 at 6:31 pm
Dear Editor and Readers,
Parents among neighborhood groups in SRVUSD are quite aware of the machinations of district administrators in selecting program providers for various schools. You will, at some point, find that State overseerers of SRVUSD and various legal investigative groups are taking a serious look at SRVUSD administration and the lack of board discipline in administrative actions over-stepping authority.
It does not stop there. Popular, and successful, principals are being subjected to forced changes in their duties, positions and contracts simply because SRVUSD administrators want subservience.
This is a much larger issue under significant scrutiny including civil rights considerations. At issue is too much authority, without responsibility to district voters, exists at the central offices and needs significant down-sizing, board control, and voter directives.
Look deeply and know parents among your neighborhoods!
More? CDSI Research Fellowship, email@example.com
Posted by Max, a resident of the San Ramon neighborhood, on Mar 4, 2012 at 9:20 pm
Hal, please give specifics. What state over-seerers and investigative groups are looking at SRVUSD? Are there lawsuits that parents should be aware of? I agree that the district administrators have too much authority and hidden agendas. I also believe that there are bigger problems that need their attention than stirring-up things up with professional child care providers do really well.
Posted by Sue, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Mar 4, 2012 at 9:40 pm
Hal nailed it on the head for me, I have been to many district meetings out of concern for my children and the quality of our schools and day care. Over and over again the district has proven through their poor decisions that they are of a mind that the ends justify the means and are willing to do whatever it takes, including bullying to get their way. From the district's overstepping their bounds and threatening school principals we have become their puppets. I do not trust that they are fair and honest, and certainly they are not transparent as they claim they want everyone else to be. I feel sorry for The Growing Room, how could a fair school board not honor their original contracts and now 3 of their schools are given away and two to a school that loses children and is more expensive? Parents are not happy about this, I have seen parents in tears over this issue, but the district seems to be unaffected. I am very suspicious, how do we make our school district/ board actually listen to the parents and voters? Let's uncover the secrets.
Posted by Fern, a resident of the San Ramon neighborhood, on Mar 5, 2012 at 8:04 am
Everyone should indeed be very concerned about this situation. A conscientious school or "committee" would never in there right mind allow a provider of child care with 4 locations on probation to take over 3 MORE location within the school district.
Parents need to step up and take action. If enough parents speak up and protest, hire an attorney, organize, etc. you CAN make change happen.
I would never, ever send any of my children to KC again. We were through the ringer with them last year and you may remember that they ended up kicking us out for being too outspoken and difficult. We were at Growing Room for 5 months and totally stand behind them. If more parents were the same way KC would have no students to put into harm's way.
Posted by Concerned Parent, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Mar 5, 2012 at 10:12 am
Please keep in mind that the committee's have only made recommendations at this point. The voting will take place on Tuesday March 6th at 7 PM at the School District Offices; 699 Old Orchard Drive, Danville. If you want your voice heard, please show up and let the Board know what your concerns are. We have to band together to fight for our children. This fight is not over yet!
Posted by SRVUSD Parent, a resident of the San Ramon neighborhood, on Mar 5, 2012 at 10:21 am
Everybody show up to the school board meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) at 7pm at the district offices 699 Old Orchard Road, Danville.
The concern I have is what is the school district hiding that they NEVER 'posted' or informed parents of this whole RFP process. It was by word of mouth that most of us found out about it. Several parents feel the district doesn't have the best interest of our children and NEVER wanted our input. They like to keep things quiet so as not to stir the pot... well it's boiling over now because of their lack of public knowledge/input because they knew this sort of thing would happen. Where's the NEWS in all of this? Let's get this going, it's wrong and unfair.
What's going to happen to all of the teachers at the Growing Room? They will be out of jobs & our kids will be without the teachers they have grown to trust and love. Let's not let the school district control what happens to the child care our children receive. The Growing Room owns most of their buildings and was willing to pay the additional cost of the lease. Having a committee make recommendations to the board based on presentations made, SCHEDULED site visits and all the "good little things they promise to do." PROOF IS IN THE PUDDING! TGR has 22+ years experience with the district without any "major violations" and now we are going to let KC take over some of these sites when they couldn't handle what they had in the first place. Where is the logic in that, oh yeah, lets reward those who do (oops did) bad.... Not those with a PROVEN track record of GOOD. Nobody is perfect but why fix something that wasn't broken, just so the school district can find a way to make more money.
The whole RFP process and rating of the vendor proposals with a PLUS/MINUS rating... who came up with this idea? Let me guess, the district/board. We NEED the press and parents to show up and support what the care is for our children... the economy is terrible, WHY put people out of work????? The YMCA doesn't have the staff currently to provide the care for additional sites so they have to hire? If this process is accepted the sites should keep the current staff or put priority on retaining these employees. Think of the effect on our children!
Somebody please get the media out to the meeting. We need to STOP this insanity!
Posted by [removed], a resident of another community, on Mar 5, 2012 at 11:39 am
For commentators in this exchange, CDSI Research Fellowship provides its members' information e-mail address, firstname.lastname@example.org, so that media members can respond to private email requests for information. But for those readers that prefer to do their own investigation, California school districts are managed by the state under review by governor's office, state assembly and state senate education committees. You may contact Joan Buchanan, State Assembly Member, and member of the Assembly Education Committee, for the specifics of how school districts are audited and investigated.
Major news services have investigated California school districts and have reported specific information on the public transparency of SRVUSD administration and board actions. As you search references provided by Joan's staff and assembly committee staff, you will find such news service reports as submissions to the public record.
At issue, SRVUSD administration and board members maintain close operating relationships beyond state definition of oversight required by school boards. School Board members, district PTA group, various state politicians are considered too closely linked to provide healthy management of the district to the will and interests of district residents. A simple research of SRVUSD board members' names on www.linkedin.com will provide an informative view of how closely-held authority is among administration, board and district PTA in conflict with requirements for independent oversight.
AS a result, SRVUSD has excessive authority resident in administrators without sufficient board oversight to control actions not in the best interests of individual schools, their students and parents, and the neighborhoods that surround such campuses.
Posted by Sandy, a member of the Tassajara Hills Elementary School community, on Mar 5, 2012 at 3:22 pm
I was quite shocked to learn on Friday that Growing Room was even being considered to be ousted and replaced by Kids Country. Our daughter has attended Growing Room for six years. The staff has always gone above and beyond to keep us informed, has taken extra great care of her, and we always felt safe leaving her in their more than capable hands. Recently, a major breakout in lice permeated Tassajara Hills. It was a staff member at the Growing Room who re-checked the chilren's hair and alerted us that she found a few nits in our daughter's hair (the very day that the office cleared our daughter.) We started treatment before it became a messy issue. The Growing Room staff is more like family, and we are quite upset over these events.
Posted by Denise, a resident of the Blackhawk neighborhood, on Mar 5, 2012 at 6:06 pm
We have two small children at the Growing Room in THE. Are perplexed as to what is going on. We've tried to get involved in this process and ensure continuity with our preferred provider, the Growing Room from the onset, only to find an anonymous committee has made the decision for us. Doesn't seem right.
Posted by Larayne, a resident of the San Ramon neighborhood, on Mar 5, 2012 at 6:53 pm
There is definitely some corruption, dishonesty, illegality, going on between the SRVUSD and their preferred provider KC, they seem to be in bed together! Can we as parents "occupy" the SRVUSD tomorrow to get the truth out of them and get them to stop the approval of these outlaws taking over a perfectly wonderful business?
Posted by Sharon, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Mar 5, 2012 at 8:30 pm
This is according to Enoch:
"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."
It sounds like the parents really need to represent at the meeting tomorrow to show how murky this has been from their perspective.
Good luck parents! I hope it works out well for your kids!
Posted by Ned, a resident of the San Ramon neighborhood, on Mar 5, 2012 at 8:57 pm
We have had a child at the Growing Room at Hidden Hills Elementary School for 3 years and have always been extremely happy with the care and services they provide. I have heard about the problems with Kids Country and it makes no sense that they would be picked over The Growing Room unless there was some "hidden" incentive. Maybe those making these recommendations should be investigated to see if they will somehow benefit from this change or are affiliated in any way with Kids Country....Makes me nervous that The Growing Room at Hidden Hills could be in a similar circumstance when their contract is up for renewal.
Posted by Mike, a resident of the San Ramon neighborhood, on Mar 6, 2012 at 1:11 pm
I think this information is useful for all. I am still not clear if there is any public information available about the selection process, or board meetings are the only venue for this.
I emailed to the board about couple of months ago , and this was the reply from Steve Enoch :
Dear SRVUSD board members,
We are parents of 7 and 5 year old kids going to the growing room at Hidden Hills currently. We understand that you are going to make decision on either continuing the lease for GR , or accept the bids for other providers.
Could you please point us to any online resource which discusses SRVUSD 's proposal to accept bids and how would they go about selecting the provider ? We have information on the case for growing room, but not much information on why SRVUSD would not extend the lease. Is is simple case of increasing the lease amount, or are their other factors. Also, how this decision would impact our day care fees , would it go up or down ?
As parents, we have good things to say about growing room. The care providers are excellent , good activities and safe for kids. Overall very good experience, and none of bad ones.
So question is if you have kids and parents goodwill as decision criteria why would you want to change providers , knowing that current one works very well. Why fix it when its not broken.
Now if SRVUSD 's criteria includes getting additional income, I understand but that should not impact the quality of care providers, and additional fees for families. Parents would be comparing any new provider with Growing Room and their feedback would come back to this SRVUSD's decision. So, we urge you to consider all the factors in your - decision.
------------ Reply from Steve Enoch -------
Because you included me in the email I thought I would try to clarify the "issue", as I don't believe the Growing Room has fully presented the situation.
It should first be understood that we are talking about leases which have expired or will be expiring at the end of this year. (The Growing Room's leases actually expired last year but they were was rolled over for another year.) The district has three different providers and all of them have some expiring leases. We are not picking on the Growing Room.
No school will go without childcare next year as all three of the current providers are of high quality and similar in fees. If not the Growing Room there will be another quality provider at your school.
It is impossible for one provider to have a monopoly as there are still a majority of schools, with multiple providers which are not expiring.
The intent of the district is to make certain the providers are delivering the highest possible quality at the most affordable price for parents. We want to make certain each provider has agreed to certain quality control issues and that the revenue collected by them is going back into the program, which is why we are requiring that their budgets and their fees be more available to the public.
It is true that there are some long leases given to one of the providers. This occurred before I was here or the present Board. While they had their reasons for giving such long leases, we do not think it is a practice we should continue. Five year leases for exclusive childcare services at a school is really quite fair and reasonable. We have not heard any complaints from the other providers about new leases being five years in length. One other factor regarding the leases is that we do not believe the district should subsidize the providers with reduced leases, unless there is a clear valued added reason to do so. We are struggling with our own budget as are most school districts.
As for the selection process, all recommendations made to the Board will come from schools themselves. It is proposed that the committees at the school consist of the parent leaders, the principal and the area director.
Finally, please keep in mind that no provider is being "cut loose". We are simply asking for proposals from interested parties and I would assume the Growing Room will submit a very compelling proposal. They may in fact end up with more schools than they currently have. I think it's also fair to assume that any provider who has a positive track record at any given school should have a huge advantage in the RFP process. This is simply a way of keeping everyone honest and transparent and I would think that an existing quality provider would welcome this opportunity as opposed to fighting this and confusing parents. The district simply wants to make certain that the providers stay competitive in pricing and quality so parents and their children receive the very best possible childcare available.
Again, thank you for taking the time to write. I hope this information has been helpful.
Posted by Keith, a resident of the San Ramon neighborhood, on Mar 6, 2012 at 2:56 pm
Wow, The Growing Room must have really screwed up their proposal and presentation to have been kicked out after Enoch told you that "any provider who has a positive track record at any given school should have a huge advantage in the RFP process." They sure weren't given an advantage and I'd like to know why. Watch the video on their website and you will know everything that you need to know about them and what makes them different than the others.
Posted by Denise, a resident of the Blackhawk neighborhood, on Mar 6, 2012 at 3:10 pm
How were the committes selected for THE? How many parents with children at the Growing Room were on each committee? What was the ratio of parents to other administrators? As for the survey, what was the response rate? What was the criteria used to determine if parents were "satisfied" "neutral" or "dissatisfied"?
As for the survey, were parents asked if they wanted to change providers and if so, given an option to review choices?
I am a parent and I am not at all confident in the process because I have no idea how the decision was made.
Posted by Kevin, a resident of the San Ramon neighborhood, on Mar 7, 2012 at 8:11 am
It was PAINFULLY obvious from last night's meeting that we are being hustled here. The board has already made up their minds. They demanded Growing Room talk about the ONE Level A violation that they themselves reported and when it was demanded that Kids' Country do the same, to explain their FIVE Level A violations, the board quickly said no, they don't want to hear it. Mr Enoch, for someone that was supposed to be "removed" from the process, you knew an awful lot about it. When the person who conducted the survey can't even explain how it was conducted and can't answer pointed questions about it, and when the ENTIRE board did not even know what a Level A violation is, clearly they don't care and have already made up their minds. Safety is a non issue for them. If I were hiring a nanny and she/he had FIVE violations; I would NEVER even consider them to care for my children. The board however seems to think, so what, who cares. Our "committee" made their decision...a "committee" by the way that was hand selected and were people who definitely had "skin in the game". Stop this madness. Table the decision and do this right. What a joke. My anger will now be directed at the ballot box. Goodbye current board.
Posted by Mike, a resident of the San Ramon neighborhood, on Mar 8, 2012 at 11:38 am
I missed the board meeting, but I am trying to get more information about the process which was followed by SRVUSD board that lead to this decision.
Does Kevin's sentiments reflect how most of the parents feel about this decision ? Was the lease term and amount discussed or is public information ?
I don't think RFP process put more emphasis on level-A violations. 1 for TGR against 5 for KC, even considering TGR is 6 locations currently, and KC is at 14 locations it seems high for KC.
About the board elections , yes we as parents should be more informed and participate in selecting the board members who accurately represent us and our views - which could be safety of our kids, excellence for our teachers and education, preparing kids to compete globally and so on.
Elections for SRVUSD board are in 2012 and 2014 :)
Posted by Jeannette, a member of the Tassajara Hills Elementary School community, on Mar 8, 2012 at 1:02 pm
I also attended the meeting and had a completely different perception. There were many rude GR parents and staff there who verbally attacked the BOD and the SRVUSD employees who were there. At the beginning of the meeting, the lady who sent out the over 4000 emails to parents at the 7 sites explained the process with a powerpoint presentation. Furthermore, the Principal of GoldenView also outlined the specific procedures she followed in finding volunteers for the committee. Perhaps the express will contact the school district and print a summary of the process. According to Mr. Enoch, the violations were completely reviewed & discussed by the committees. I trust my neighbors to review all the data for all of the providers and make a recommendation for the best provider for their children and mine. I have an open mind and am willing to give KC a chance.
Posted by Kevin, a resident of the San Ramon neighborhood, on Mar 8, 2012 at 2:32 pm
Jeannette - I am neither a staff member nor do I have any children in GR. I was there because I saw a gross negligence in ignoring serious violations at KC. Past behaviors predict future performance, that is quite a pattern if you ask me. Five of the highest level violations the state can possibly give. I feel for the parents. I would be angry too. This is critical for working parents. We are trusting organization with our most precious thing in life. The explanation by the person who sent out the emails, was able to read from a PowerPoint presentation. When presented with tough questions, she could not answer them. When asked specific questions about the process, she could not answer them. There are too many holes in that process and in the manner in which the board is looking at this. One of the committee members themselves said the process was flawed. The principal at GV had to find, ONE volunteer. The rest were all hand picked. In my opinion PTA members, etc. are too involved in the politics of schools to be involved in this magnitude of a decision. In regard to Mr. Enoch's comments, how do we know? Those sessions, interviews, results of the interviews, etc. were held behind closed doors and the public was not allowed to hear, see or anything. That is wrong. If I conducted RFPs and questionnaires like this committee and board did, I would be fired at my job. That is exactly what I plan to do with this board, fire them.
Posted by Mark, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Mar 22, 2012 at 8:34 am
There's a lot of opinion being thrown around here and very little in the way of facts.
Fact: Kids Country is the only fully accredited childcare provider providing on-site childcare in the SRVUSD. The process for becoming accredited is a rigorous and difficult one.
Fact: Kids Country was founded and is run by parents and members of the community, an all volunteer board oversees their operations and receives no compensation for their work. Contrast that with the Growing Room, a family business who massively compensates its board members (who are family members) that is deceiving the IRS and State of California by misrepresenting itself as a non-profit entity.
Fact: The principals and teachers at the sites where Kids Country operates have nothing but praise for their operations and their staff. The principals and teachers at the Growing Room sites find that organization difficult to work with and have disdain for their staff. Professional educators who have dedicated their lives to teaching and caring for children, when they express a preference should be listened to.
Fact: The Level A violations at Kids Country sites were self-reported. Children left the sites, Kids Country discovered this and took action to find the kids and then reported the incidents as required by law. The Level A violations at the Growing Room were reported by the police. In one incident a child left the site and was returned hours later to the Growing Room by the police. The supposedly wonderful staff at GC were not even aware the child was missing until the police showed up hours later. Sub-fact: These types of incidents happen to all childcare providers. It is highly likely that the Growing Room has misplaced many more children in the past and simply chosen to ignore the law and failed to self-report the incident. Kids Country abides by the letter of the law in all of their operations, which means all reportable incidents are reported.
Fact: The Growing Room reacted to being asked to re-bid for their existing sites with hostility and intimidation tactics. Further, when asked to disclose their board compensation in the big package they falsified the numbers, understating their board compensation by half, even though the tax documents required by the bid package contradicted the numbers they submitted. When they lost the bid on a couple of sites they reacted with further intimidation and hostility, and engaged the services of a far-right wing legal firm whose own agenda is the dismantling of public education to submit a bogus Brown Act violation claim that would tie the hands of the school board or force them to spend upwards of $100,000 to defend themselves. Contrast this with Kids Country's and the YMCA's approach to the same situation, which was to present themselves in a professional manner and respectful manner.
Fact: The aforementioned Brown Act violation claim has now set a precedent that will make administration of the entire SRVUSD impossible. All work that is done by public entities is done primarily in appointed committees. This includes decisions on design for new facilities, bids for construction contracts, allocation of funds from one school to another and even the procurement of textbooks and teaching materials. The small-minded, selfish actions of the Growing Room and its supporters may have crippled the SRVUSD for years.
Opinion: Those of you defending the Growing Room and slandering Kids Country are behaving like spoiled children and bullies. The committees that were formed to handle this RFP were designed from the outset to evaluate the providers objectively. The committees included parents whose children were served by the incumbent providers, parents who are heavily involved in guiding their schools as members of the various support organizations at each school, the school principals and teachers. By questioning the integrity of these committees you are insulting your neighbors and the educators who are responsible for teaching your children. If you have such a low opinion of these people I seriously question why you have your kids attend schools within this district at all.
I, for one, am disgusted and appalled by the disrespectful and stupid behavior shown by so many of my neighbors. Is this a lesson you are proud to teach your children - that when you lose a contest it's appropriate to threaten your opponents, to insult them and accuse them of cheating? Are you proud to show your kids that following a script fed to you by a wealthy man who is only trying to maintain a source of that wealth is a positive path to follow?
Posted by Itsallonline, a resident of another community, on Mar 22, 2012 at 8:22 pm
I wouldn't be surprised to see the Superintendent and the BOE bring the childcare programs in house. Many school districts operate their own programs. Between the 3 providers there is revenue of well over $10 MILLION dollars. If the schools can operate the programs with a 5%-10% profit margin they will have between $500,000 and $1,000,000 to contribute toward the budget annually. I just can't believe SRVUSD will want to do business with GR any longer. Name another VENDOR that tells the BUYER how it's going to be. Solution = no more vendor.
Now for my soapbox...Where along the way in the last 20 years did school districts become "required" to provide a childcare vendor on site? Prior to becoming school-age, children generally attend private, for-profit childcare centers (much like the one owned by The Growing Room - Larson's Children's Center). What is it about entering kindergarten that triggers the "expectation" that a school(a public entity paid for by ALL taxpayers) will host a school-age program that serves 10% of taxpayers?