veritas exquirere

Survey Administered to OPUSD Parents Indicates Strong Interest in Care Program

Before/After School Program is updated

January 31, 2018

Options for a new district-operated Before & After School Program for the 2018-2019 school year were presented in the monthly OPUSD board meeting Dec. 5. The board meeting comprised of members of the board of education, as well as representatives from each OPUSD school.

At the meeting, board members received an update from OPUSD administration staff as to the viability of initiating a new care program similar to the one currently operated by Rancho Simi Recreation and Parks District at Red Oak Elementary School, Brookside Elementary School, Oak Hills Elementary School and Medea Creek Middle School. According to OPUSD Superintendent Dr. Tony Knight, a district operated program would focus more on a learning oriented environment, extending the school day education.

According to Board of Education Vice President Denise Helfstein, after being authorized to explore the concept of a district-operated Before & After School Program at the previous board meeting Oct. 17, a survey was sent out to parents of students within the four schools that the care program could be initiated in.

“On Tuesday night, the Board was presented with the results of the ‘District-operated Before & After School Program Survey,’” Helfstein wrote to the Talon. “The survey was sent out by the District to all parents mid November. The District received over 1,000 responses and they were very informative.”

The survey was sent out by the District to all parents mid November. The District received over 1,000 responses and they were very informative”

— Tony Knight

Out of the total 1,072 responses given by those surveyed, 65.8 percent of families did not have students enrolled in the Rancho Simi Recreation and Parks District, of which 77.4 percent would be interested in a district-operated program. Among the questions asked were queries regarding whether or not a district-care program would operate on school holidays and breaks.

“Our initial financials show that it would be viable to operate without raising fees and that we could probably offer a stronger, more enhanced program for our families,” Knight wrote to the Talon, “We would also operate a program that meets 100 [percent] of need, which the current program cannot do.”

The discussion of a new care program, however, stirred up controversy amongst those present at the October board meeting, as Rancho Simi Recreation and Parks Department representatives voiced their disapproval on the subject of direct competition to their already established services.

“Reduction in affordability to parents, revenues that are invested back into the community, jobs and a highly-valued program are what’s at stake,” Rancho Simi Recreation and Parks District Recreation Coordinator Richard Lemmo said in an address to the OPUSD Board of Education. “I ask you to carefully consider the school district’s goals to after school programming and request that you consider the significant value the existing program –– which is provided by the Park District –– has to members of this community.”

The introduction of a district-operated Before & After School Program would not necessitate the removal of the current one operated by the Park District, according to Knight. Rather, a new establishment would provide a direct competition to the service the Park District provides.  Knight said that the plan for the district-operated school care program had been floating around for some time before the official inquiry as to its feasibility.

“We have all been talking about this idea. It’s a major project, but it looks like the time has come,” Knight wrote to the Talon. “The school board is interested in moving this forward.”

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