Concerns cause BOE to reconsider decision

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REGION 16 — The Region 16 Board of Education has reversed a directive given to a before and after-school program following concerns raised by parents.

The Beacon Falls-based United Day School has run a before and after-school program at Laurel Ledge Elementary School in Beacon Falls since 2002. United Day, which is owned by former Region 16 Board of Education member Wendy Oliveira, is currently in the first year of a contract to operate a program at the new Prospect Elementary School in Prospect.

Superintendent of Schools Michael Yamin said he informed Oliveira in September that in the event of an emergency closing or early dismissal due to weather the programs at both schools will have to close, as well. In the past, the program at Laurel Ledge remained open in such instances.

The directive was given under the direction of the school board, which oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect. The school board is worried about potential liability issues if the programs remained open while schools were closed for weather or emergency reasons.

Several parents from both towns addressed the school board at its Oct. 14 meeting. The parents argued that forcing the program to close early is a hardship for them since they can’t always leave work early or arrange for someone to pick up their children.

Stacy Clark of Beacon Falls said she and her husband are working parents and can’t always be there to pick up their children, but they know that their children are in competent care in the United Day program.

Parents also questioned the short notice of the decision and requested the board’s directive either be reversed or put on hold for the current school year.

The board agreed to allow United Day to stay open on unannounced early dismissals for the rest of this school year and review the matter for the 2016-17 school year.

Vice Chair Priscilla Cretella said knowing that it’s a hardship for the parents, she felt holding off for this year is the right decision.

Board member Robert Hiscox said all parents are in the same situation when it comes to an unannounced early dismissal. However, he said, the decision was short notice for the parents of children in the United Day program. He agreed that reviewing the matter and implementing a policy for next school year is the way to go.

United Day’s contract to run the program at Prospect Elementary states the program will close early in the event of an unannounced early dismissal, according to school officials. Yamin said he will work with Oliveira to amend the contract.

School officials also recently put to bed an ongoing issue regarding the school usage fee charged United Day.

United Day was paying the district $20 a day to use Laurel Ledge. The fee was set in 2002, without the approval of the board and never came up again for an annual approval, according to school officials.

United Day bid $14,480 annually to run the program at Prospect Elementary. The figure was based on an $80 fee to use the cafeteria at the school set forth in a revised fee schedule for using a school.

Board members had expressed concerns with the disparity between the fees for using the schools. According to Yamin, the board decided last month to increase the fee for using Laurel Ledge to $60 a day this school year and $80 starting next school year.

Yamin said the Region wants to work together with United Day to ensure the program is successful because the program provides a great service for the communities of Beacon Falls and Prospect.

1 COMMENT

  1. Thank you to the BOE for agreeing to reverse this decision for the year. Hopefully, they will realize the program is an asset to the community and the fact that it has run for over a decade without problem will temper their concerns about liabilities.