EYE ON EDUCATION
from Eyewitness News Online
Solutions In Works To Save Day Care Facilities Being Closed
By Kera Mashek
February 26, 2014
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Kera Mashek) -- A group of parents are on a mission, hoping to save three day cares that hundreds of families rely on. It's an incredibly important job for the affected families because day cares are more than just babysitting. They're the very first building block of a child's education. So for the past two weeks, since Kanawha County Schools announced they would close three day cares, parents have been panicked about finding a new child care option for their kids. Now, it looks like their persistence could pay off, as a number of options are being explored to keep the day cares' doors open...
Cassie Means is a mother to beautiful twin boys, seven-month-olds Gabriel and Zachary, and they among the hundreds of kids set to lose their day care centers as of June.
"It's kind of strange that we're angry at Kanawha County Schools, and we're angry at a bunch of people, you know. They've provided us with such a great service, and we're mad that they're taking it away," said Means.
So Means and several other parents impacted by the planned closures of the Public Employee Day Care near the state capitol and facilities at Shawnee and Elk Center schools, are banding together, hoping to keep them open Kanawha County's superintendent says that's encouraging and the district is looking at several options. But keeping the centers open will come with a cost.
"There's certainly going to have to be an increase in tuition fees, but we also have to have a minimum number of students for them to operate successfully," said Dr. Ron Duerring, Kanawha Co. Superintendent.
And Means says since her day care's been charging up to $70 less per week than other area day cares, she's willing to fork out a little more to keep her kids enrolled.
"Every parent I've spoken to has indicated a willingness to pay more and quite frankly, we're a little bothered we weren't asked for that before we got the letter because we're all willing to pay a reasonable increase," said Means.
But she sees another challenge going forward. Some kids enrolled and staff at the day cares slated to close are already leaving because of the uncertain future.
"This is a sinking ship." said Means.
But Dr. Duerring sees a silver lining if the centers can be saved.
"A lot of parents have said that if they did find out it was going to stay open--that they would come back as well," said Duerring.
But right now, there are still a lot of question marks about if the day cares can be saved. The school district does have a meeting with the governor's office Thursday, and Duerring says an arrangement to keep the Shawnee daycare is getting close. So he's optimistic there will be a solution, very soon, to keep all three centers open.
We'll certainly keep you posted on what happens.
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