Open Letter to the BOS Extended Day Review Committee sign now

Open Letter to Extended Day Review Committee
August 10, 2004



Dear Mr. Sheehy,

As Extended Day Program subscribers, we are writing to state our strong support for the program and our desire to be formally included in deliberations affecting its future.

For the past twelve years, Extended Day has operated as a fully self-funded afterschool program which provides a valuable service to the residents of Woodbridge. It is widely known as a high-quality program and much of its strength is due to the fact that it is staffed by teachers and teaching assistants and is closely affiliated with the town's public school by virtue of being operated out of the Beecher Road School building. Prior to this November, under the supportive auspices of the Woodbridge Board of Education, the program enjoyed a well-deserved reputation as a uniquely strong, successful and highly enviable afterschool program.

However, beginning in November 2003 the WBOE began making a series of public statements suggesting that it no longer welcomes the continued operation of the Extended Day program under its auspices. At its March 15, 2004 meeting, by a vote of 6-2 the WBOE defeated a motion to "continue sponsorship" of the Extended Day Program and instead opted to pursue alternative management arrangements for the program. Further, at its June 21, 2004 meeting it voted to approve a budget for the program that introduces greatly increased costs and staffing requirements we believe to be at odds with the original budget request submitted by the Program Director.

On July 23, 2004, after more than a decade successfully guiding the Extended Day Program, the Program Director resigned. As of August 7, 2004 program subscribers have not received communication regarding the cost to participate in the program for the coming school year, but it is anticipated that fees will increase by more than 4\% solely to accommodate alterations to the program dictated by the WBOE which deviate from past practice of Extended Day Program operation. We note that these changes have come despite assurance from the WBOE that such alterations to the program would not be considered until after your committee had a chance to weigh in with a recommendation in October.

Mindful of the repercussions of these recent events, and with the aim of ensuring that this program continues uninterrupted as a service to the community, with its inherent integrity and the essence of the program intact, the Extended Day Parents Association (EDPA) was formed on August 4, 2004 and hereby respectfully requests recognition.

After substantial discussion at our meeting, it was the consensus of the EDPA membership that the following stipulations are of major concern to program subscribers. We respectfully submit them to you now with the request that they be considered by your committee for incorporation into the recommendation of the EDRC as it explores the basis of a possible BOS mandate for the Human Services Department to take on ownership of the Extended Day Program;

1. Continued access be granted to appropriate program space at Beecher Road School, under fixed lease terms commensurate with a formula which the WBOE, BOS and BOF agree is reasonable for use of school facilities by town sponsored programs, at the exclusion of all other charges and conditions of use.

2. Wages paid to staff remain commensurate with the current, proven formula of compensation that has effectively provided for the attraction and retention of quality program staff.

3. The Program Director is granted continued discretion to manage day-to-day operations of the program once it moves to town management.

4. An annual operational budget for the program continues to be fully funded by program fees charged to subscribers, in combination with any grants and aid the program may receive. As has been past practice, at no time will Woodbridge taxpayer-provided public funding be extended to the program.

5. Assurance be provided that the existing Extended Day Program surplus will transfer with the program to town ownership and be used as either the basis of a contingency fund for the program or to further the goals of the program in some other meaningful manner.

6. The Human Services Commission create an Extended Day Advisory Committee and that EDPA members be designated to serve on such a committee in order to represent program subscribers during transition and on an ongoing basis to provide input and support as part of the annual budget development process and whenever major programmatic decisions are to be weighed.

At our August 4th meeting, a team of members was selected to represent the EDPA and conduct due diligence on behalf of program subscribers as exploration continues by your committee to determine how ownership of the ED program by Human Services might differ from WBOE ownership, before making a recommendation to the BOS.

Members of this EDPA due diligence team stand ready to meet with representatives of the town at the behest of your committee. The full membership of the EDPA patiently awaits communication regarding the resolution of our stated concerns so as to consider endorsement of a transition to town ownership as soon as reasonably possible after the October 13, 2004 Board of Selectmen meeting.

Finally, we wish to stress that the Extended Day program is an economic necessity for the working parents of Woodbridge. As such, we feel that continued reliable access to this high quality service is a right of all town residents. It is our strong belief that Extended Day significantly enhances the reputation of the town of Woodbridge and supports real estate property values, the benefit of which all residents enjoy. We trust that you and your committee will act to strengthen the towns commitment to its children by protecting the essence of this remarkable afterschool program and assuring its continued success.

Thank you very much for your consideration.

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Rachel MyersBy:
International PolicyIn:
Petition target:
Mr. Edward M. Sheehy, Chairman

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