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School Board Votes to Quit Child Care Program

November 05, 1987|ESTHER SCHRADER | Times Staff Writer

The Glendale School Board voted unanimously Tuesday to end the district's participation in the Glendale Employers Child Care Consortium because of a growing deficit.

The innovative child-care program, founded jointly by the district, the city and three private firms in January, has run up a $49,000 deficit after its first nine months of operation, said Georgia McAninch, director of child development centers for the school district. She said the deficit is largely attributable to the high cost of employing school district staff to run the center.

"I think every stone has been turned to try to make this work," McAninch said. "It's time to say that this (withdrawal) is a reality. It was a wonderful idea, but it's time to look at our involvement in the program from a safe and sane point of view."

School district officials, faced with an enrollment pattern which ran contrary to their expectations, have had to nearly double their anticipated staff, making the cost of running the program unmanageable.

The consortium based the child care center's budget for its first year on an expected enrollment of two-thirds preschoolers and one-third infants and toddlers. But infants and toddlers, who require twice as much staff supervision as preschoolers under state law, make up the majority of children at the center, McAninch said.

School district employees, who are union members, are more highly paid than employees of other child care centers in the Glendale area, McAninch said. She said the center could not operate competitively as long as it employed school district staff.

The school district will continue to manage the child-care cooperative until Jan. 5, 1988. School district officials are helping the other consortium members look for an operator to take over at that time, said Consortium Board Chair Beth Gardner. The board has heard from four prospective operators interested in running the center, she said.

Quality at a Price

"We are looking for a quality child care provider, but the bottom line is it has to be somebody able to run it in the black instead of the red," Gardner said. "We have to be in a non-deficit mode."

The district will shoulder $20,000 of the deficit run up from January through July, McAninch said.

All consortium members will share equally in any additional deficit until the district withdraws, she said. The district estimates that the program will incur another $30,000 loss by the end of December, McAninch told the school board Tuesday night.

Founded in January by the school district, the city, Glendale Memorial Hospital, Verdugo Hills Hospital and Glendale Federal Savings & Loan, the consortium was intended to be a cooperative venture into quality child care by public and private employers.

The school district took responsibility for managing the program, incorporating it under its Child Development Centers Branch, which runs 15 day-care centers throughout the district.

The center, at North Glendale Methodist Church, 1015 N. Central Ave., has been burdened with a low overall enrollment, McAninch said. It has facilities for 90 children, but only 55 have enrolled.

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