By Morgan Holt
Buena Vista Superintendent Rebecca Gates says the school board is offering an alternative to the imminent closing of day care at Kling Elementary School, but parents and teachers aren’t happy about it.
Starting next Friday, 20 to 25 children in kindergarten through 4th grade will lose before- and after-school day care at Kling. Their parents will be given the opportunity to send their children to day care at Enderly Elementary, about 10 minutes away, and busing will be provided, Gates said.
Gates also said that Kling’s day care employees will be offered jobs at Enderly.
The superintendent said Kling’s day care is being closed for financial reasons. Gates insists that the program must remain “self-supporting,” which means it receives no state funds or non-profit help.
The program is supposed to be supported by fees paid by parents, Gates said. She said some parents have not paid, leaving the program several thousand dollars in debt and forcing its shutdown.
“It got to the point where we were paying [day care] workers out of general funds and not being reimbursed,” said Gates. “We obviously can’t keep a program going that isn’t bringing in enough money to sustain itself.”
Several parents and teachers say they are upset that they weren’t notified about the closure. Many of them found out by reading the newspaper and Facebook before the school board could tell parents in a letter.
Gates said the school board met late last month to finalize the letter and hoped to send it to parents by the end of last week.
Traci Montgomery, an employee at Kling day care, said she is upset that parents and faculty weren’t notified until after the decision was made to close the school.
“I got a call at my other job saying, ‘What’s going on at day care? Why’s it closing?’ and I had no answers,” she said.
Gates said that all faculty and staff were invited to a special school board meeting Oct. 24, but only one Kling day care worker showed up.
“Unfortunately it’s really hard to keep things quiet in Buena Vista,” Gates said. “Word spread quickly and it was a lot of inaccurate information that was built up.”
Terri Fairchild, a Kling parent, said she is angry at what she believes is a lack of communication by Gates and the board with parents and teachers.
She asked Gates at the most recent school board meeting, “How would you feel if you came to work and saw 300 signatures asking for your resignation? And we all knew and you didn’t?”
Montgomery said she is worried that many children at Kling will not be able to adjust to the larger day care program at Enderly. She said there are several children with attention deficit issues, and they received the attention they need in Kling’s smaller program.
“I’m speaking on behalf of the children,” she said. “They don’t have a voice. And they depend on us as parents, teachers and staff to take care of them.”