The SJCC Board of Directors
United States of America

To all full-time ECS families:

We are all aware of the unprecedented number of full-day and 3pm school closures this year, and we have individually and collectively tried to work with the administration to revise this year's ECS calendar and increase the days of full-time care provided. Unfortunately, the solutions offered by the administration thus far have been unacceptable. Several families have come together to write a letter to the JCC Board of Directors to present at their next meeting on Tuesday, November 28th. We believe that the Board is unaware of the changes, and we are asking for their support in pursuading the ECS administraton to provide childcare during non-holiday closures. We are also hoping that the Board will help ensure that such calendar issues are avoided in the future.

Please review the attached letter and indicate your support by signing via this online petition tool. It is critical that we (full-time families) present a unified voice to the administration and to the board. We are circulating the letter to nine full-time classrooms and anticipate strong support.

Thanks in advance for your support. And please feel free to contact any of the letter's authors with feedback or questions.

Liz Friedman, Lam Nguyen, Deborah Schneider, Rachel Schwartz, and Ilyse Wagner

Dear SJCC Board,

While most of you are aware of the tremendous education the ECS pre-school provides, you may not be aware of the other very important role that the program plays. ECS serves as a full-time daycare for working parents, many of whom come from dual-working parent households. This is an essential service that meets a critical need of many of our members, and we are glad to have such a strong program to meet our families' needs. Unfortunately this year we have had significant challenges with the ECS calendar that now plans for 27 full days of closures throughout the school year. We have unsuccessfully lobbied the ECS and SJCC administration to revise this year's calendar to adequately meet our members' needs and thus we collectively seek your support.

We are part of a progressive Jewish pre-school and recognize that, as a result, there will be closures for the Jewish holidays and that teachers need time for professional development, both calendar requirements that we fully support. Last year, our ECS full-time parent liaisons worked with the administration to minimize the impact that teacher training would have on the calendar, and jointly agreed to schedule for monthly 3:00 pm closures in lieu of full-day training closures. The parent liaisons also supported the administration in changing the operating hours of ECS, beginning the day at 7:30am rather than at 7:00am, apparently in an effort to save significant money and to allow early arriving teachers time to prepare for their days. This year, after registering in February and paying our deposits with the expectation that calendar closures would be improved for ECS families, we were shocked to see the final calendar when it was published after school had already begun. The number of closures had actually increased, and significantly so.

Specifically, we noted that ECS would not be providing full-time daycare on multiple occasions, many of which are unprecedented - four days for a "Winter Break" (12/26-12/29), one day for parent-teacher conferences (1/12), one full-day for teacher training (2/20), one day for no published reason (5/25), and one day extra for the already-scheduled one-week Labor Day/teacher training closure (8/24). These days are in addition to all U.S. national holidays, Jewish holidays, a full week of closure in late August, and monthly 3:00pm early closures for teacher training. In sum, this represents 27 full-day closures and 7 early closures. Not only is this significantly out of line with other childcare programs - some of which close for six days total, all year long - but this is drastically out of line with the standard 2-3 weeks (or 10-15 days) of vacation that most working parents earn in their full-time jobs.

This issue has been raised to both the ECS administration and the SJCC administration by individual families on a one-off basis and more formally by the ECS full-time parent liaison. After much debate, the administration finally cancelled one full-day closure for teacher training and two early closures over the summer. They also offered an unsatisfactory option for the new "Winter Break".

Specifically, they offered that if our children are in the Four's program, we would have the option to pay additional costs for this care ($60/child per day); if our children are in the Three's program, we would have the option to pay additional costs for this care only if an adequate number of families were to sign-up; and if our children are younger than three, we would simply have to find another option.

Paying $60 per day per child is unsatisfactory when we have already paid tuition and have, in fact, saved the ECS money by decreasing the program's operating hours. Not having options for care for children under three is simply unsatisfactory. This very near-term need must be addressed this year, and not just left for consideration in next year's calendar as has been promised by the ECS administration. Full-time parents have been repeatedly asking for a suitable solution for this calendar year, having first raised the issue in October when the calendar was initially published and shared. Families are still without childcare during the final week in December that is now only a month away.

Our expectation when we signed our contract with ECS in February was that our tuition, which exceeds $14,000 a year for most full-time children and is among the more expensive tuitions of childcare programs, would cover care for all of our children for the entire year. We anticipated the traditional closures for U.S. and Jewish holidays, and for the last week in August. We did not anticipate the bevy of new closures presented in the calendar at the end of the summer.

Several families have commented that they are considering alternatives to ECS because of these calendar issues and may not return next year. In fact, the administration is practically asking families to do so, telling families that they will receive the ECS calendar prior to formal registration next year so that they can determine if ECS will be a viable option for them going forward. It is an absolute shame that these families who have chosen to affiliate with and invest in their community center should be asked or feel the need to look elsewhere for childcare because of inconsistent and unreasonable calendar planning.

To date, the February 20th closure has been addressed which we appreciate. However there are still three other dates, in addition to the four days between Christmas and New Year's, for which there has been no satisfactory explanation or resolution. These closures present a significant hardship - both financial and logistical - for the many members that have chosen ECS as their childcare option. We hope that this board will be able to review the situation and reach a better solution.

We tirelessly support our school and consider ourselves partners with the ECS administration. In this case, our partnership has fallen short. We request your support in reviewing the calendar changes with the ECS administration, establishing care for those days that have been traditionally covered in years past and at no extra charge, and ensuring that such calendar changes will no longer occur.

Thank you for your support,
ECS Full-Time Families, as represented by the undersigned

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The SJCC ECS Closures Letter to the Board petition to The SJCC Board of Directors was written by Jordan Friedman and is in the category Miscellaneous at GoPetition.