Thursday, March 4, 2010

Preschool drama

First let me say we love the preschool Duncan goes to. The teachers are fantastic. He absolutely loves it there. He loves his friends, the teachers, the songs, the playing, and we're really seeing him grow in his independence and abilities. Duncan is the kind of kid preschool was made for. It gets him used to group settings and having to listen etc... This year we did two mornings a week, and next year we registered him for 3 mornings a week. The year after that we're in full day kindergarten - eek! But that's still a ways away.

Back to the preschool - it's parent led. Which means that the teachers work for a parent board and the parents on the board make all the decisions and handle financials etc... This became quite a problem last week when we all received a notice - after we'd already registered for next year - that the school is in financial distress, and they are proposing each student pay $40 extra a month which might get the school through until the end of the year.

There was a meeting on Monday night. Lots of things came out of it - the school district has raised rent by $400/month, student enrollment is down by 18 students, provincial grants didn't come through, the teachers have had hours reduced already, the school phone has been cut to save a bit of money, and that the school has to find a new space for next year b/c with all day K coming in the school we're renting from needs the space back... We asked questions like when did you find out about the rent increase ("we just found out" we were told), what is going to happen next year? ("we need to get through this year 1st") what if we can't pay? ("we need everyone to pay"), etc etc etc...

A lot of things didn't sit right. Gina, a friend, had a good point, we don't understand what it's like to be running that business, so we should cut them a bit of a break, but we're all thinking you can't tell us you didn't know back in September that enrollment was low, you knew several months ago about the rent increase, why didn't you come to us sooner? Oh, and it came up that fund raising has not been too successful, and the fundraising parent in charge had left the board. Gina and I suggested we do a wine raffle to maybe raise a bunch of money (worked well for my Mom's school) and we'd spearhead it. So we were all there for probably an hour and a 1/2 talking and coming up with ideas... but Jen and Nikki had these looks on their faces like "I'm not too sure about all of this".

There is so much going on. The next morning I'm talking to Gina to start coordinating the wine raffle. She mentions she is going to put her son in another school next year b/c if these people can't handle this year and communicating with us, would they really be able to find a new spot, move the school, get the students etc... I thought that was a good point. Then I was picking Duncan up and chatting with the Moms outside and one of them is the fundraiser Mom and she told me the reason she quit is because they knew all of this a long time ago (last year) and made a conscious decision to not tell parents yet. Fundraising would have been effective but they weren't communicating with the parents (which they weren't at all). Anyhow, she left b/c she couldn't handle the way they were making decisions any more. They knew a while ago the school would need to move. They knew a while ago the rent was going up, not "we just found out" like they told us when I'd asked the night before.

Then I was talking to Nikki after and she says "I don't think the school is going to make it to the end of the year" and wondered whether or not to pull her son now. I said I would like Duncan to see out the year if we can - unless the school folds, because he really does love it there. She then told me that one of the board members (and this was just killer) had already decided to enroll her child in another preschool for next year. The board doesn't even have confidence in the school being around!! So we've decided we will look for a new school for next year for the boys. We will try and stick it out for the rest of this year - but apparently parents are already pulling their kids, so we don't think it will be around until the end of the year. I then called Gina and said "do we want to bother with the wine raffle if it isn't even going to make a difference?" she agreed and said she would talk to some people and get the low down. I also talked to Jen (who watched Duncan for us a few years back) and she has already registered her son in another school for next year.

It's just shame!! I just wish they had communicated with us more and more often. Keeping the parents in the dark and telling untruths to kind of protects themselves... I'm sure these women are otherwise good people, I don't want to slander them. I think they just didn't know how to handle the situation. But the long and the short of it is that my kid is being screwed out of this all, and I don't like that.

So now we're out shopping for a new preschool, and I need to get my cheques for next year back. I need to find out who to call about that actually.


Nancy said...

Ugh, man that sucks. I'm sorry you guys have to deal with this. I think you're doing the right thing by moving him to a new school though. The writing's on the wall and if TPTB waited this long to inform the parents, then they shouldn't be surprised that people start leaving.

Tanya Baron said...

And I guess you could ask the bank to do a stop order on the cheques if the school isn't helpful enough. Sorry it's all so confusing and silly! I have to agree with you -- if he'd getting good care for now, I'd stick around till it ends, and worry about the future when it comes.
Now you've got ME wondering about preschool! What do full time working parents do about preschool? Skip it?

Laura said...

I would assume that you will have difficulties with getting your checks back, and just go directly to the bank to stop payment if they have not already been cashed. Otherwise, I think it is likely that you will not get your money back.

How sad for your little guy! Maybe you will find something even better for him!

Michelle @ Flying Giggles said...

Oh wow! I think when dealing with this, communication is key - which they are obviously lacking. It is a tough call, but I am sure you will find a new preschool that you will equally love for your son. I hope you get your money back for next year, it sounds like it might already have been spent. If they go under, you might be out of luck.