The school district is shuffling 11 preschool classrooms – including closing down 3 classrooms at School 10 — for the upcoming 2018-19 academic year.
Other changes include relocating 4 preschool classrooms from the Madison Avenue K to School 15 and opening 4 new preschool classrooms at School 25, considered as an “underserved area” by the district, according to information provided to school board members last week.
Some school board members questioned the changes and sought more information last Wednesday.
Board member Nakima Redmon questioned the wisdom of closing down the 3 classrooms at School 10 to open 3 new ones at the Omega Child Development Center, former site of the Blessed Sacrament, on 6th Avenue.
“Most of those parents may not have transportation to go to your new facility,” said Redmon. The two locations are nearly a mile apart.
Omega Child Development Center, a licensed privately-run preschool, had 17 violations in 2016, according to a New Jersey Department of Education inspection, for such things as failing to secure cleaning supplies under a sink, failing to lock a closet that had paint supplies inside. One finding stated the preschool’s director should be provided training. The violations were abated in 2017.
By contrast, the School 10 preschool has been one of the higher quality programs in the city, particularly in the 4th Ward, said Linda Reid, president of the Parent Education Organizing Council of Paterson (PEOC). At one time, she had a grand child enrolled at the program, she said.
“They’d have a big fight on their hand if I was there,” said Reid on Monday afternoon. “It’s asinine for the district to move those kids.”
Some parents may have to make two trips to drop off their children at School 10 and the Omega Child Development Center, if the changes are approved, said Reid.
“It will do damage to our kids and our families in the 4th Ward,” said school board member Emanuel Capers, who opposes the changes.
The relocation of 4 classrooms from Madison Avenue K to School 15 will allow for better supervision and potential cost savings for the district.
“I really need the four classrooms to come to School 15 because it’s really difficult to have an eye and pulse on two different buildings,” said Ramona Garcia, principal of School 15, to the school board. “I’m at School 15, but I still have to worry about what’s happening at the early learning center in Madison K.”
The Madison Avenue K is an extension of School 15. School 15 has almost 700 students, said the principal.
“You don’t have a director, vice principal, or supervisor that’s overseeing that building right now?” asked Capers. He also wondered how School 15 has space for four classrooms.
Garcia said four district supervisors rotate through the week at the early learning center. She said there’s a new supervisor at the early learning center every day.
“It’s not cost effective, when you have four classrooms that need an administrator, a full-time nurse, a security guard, a custodian, and food staff,” added deputy superintendent Susana Peron.
Longtime school board member Jonathan Hodges said he needs more information before approving the district’s plan.
“It’s a big move. It’s way too many little kids being moved at the same time,” said school board president Oshin Castillo.
Superintendent Eileen Shafer said her staff will provide a report at the board’s Jun. 20, 2018 meeting. The changes will affect approximately 165 students.
It’s not clear what the district plans to do with the Madison Avenue K building. The superintendent said the district does not plan to close it down.
The district serves 3,600 children through 23 private preschool providers and 12 in-district sites.