Cuts to preschool program will have ripple effect

Preschool services for the children of some local adult school students will be significantly cut back next year, an official with the Mountain View-Los Altos Adult Education program said.

Laura Stefanski, director of the MVLA Adult School, said that because of the unexpected elimination of the federally funded Even Start grant, which provides support for childhood education, adult literacy and parenting education programs, the Adult School had no choice but to make the cuts -- equivalent to a little more than one full-time position.

On March 4, it was announced that Even Start money would not be made available next year -- too late for the Adult School to come up with the approximately $133,000 that the grant would have provided.

It cost the Adult School $285,000 to run the child care center this year, so losing the grant cut the preschool's budget almost in half. Stefanski said the Adult School was able to reallocate some funds and even raised some money at the last minute, but ultimately they had to make the decision to server fewer children and families next year.

Stefanski estimated the Adult School will have to turn away as many as 14 students next year from two programs -- the English as a second language morning class and the young parent program in the afternoon.

Students attending these programs rely on the Adult School's childcare services to watch their children while they learn English and parenting skills.

Because law requires child care centers to have very low teacher to child ratios for infants and toddlers, eliminating even one preschool instructor can greatly impact the number of children a program can accept.

Stefanski said the morning ESL class will likely reduce its capacity from 22 to 12 children, and the afternoon young parenting class will likely move from 16 down to 12.

The cuts will have a ripple effect throughout the entire community, Stefanski said.

Fewer adults will have an opportunity to improve their English skills, which will impact their ability to function in the community as well as their ability to help their children learn the language.

The Adult School also teaches parents how to engage in their child's education, giving instruction on how to check in with teachers, visit with school counselors, stay on top of homework assignments and what kinds of questions to ask at back to school night.

It may sound simple, Stefanski said, but for young parents and those not familiar with the American culture, these classes really do empower students.

"It is a program within a larger program," Stefanski said. It helps make the transition from preschool to grade school smoother for the parents and for the children. "Preschool is really essential for a child to be successful as he or she goes into kindergarten."


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Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 16, 2011 at 12:34 pm

This is the type of Education program that MVLA district sometimes seems to short IMO - (sorry Barry). It has almost zero effect on the Los Altos side of the district - but it has major direct effects on the future educational opportunities of the large SED (= poor and less educated) families from Mountain View. It will be interesting to learn how many MVLA Board members lifted a finger (or a pen to write or a hand to telephone) to get the newest Shoreline District money. [the public record will show I've been trying to get them personally involved with the MV council over several years]. But this is just another aspect of the need for MV citizens to fight to get FULL education taxes from Shoreline, not the temporary 1/3.

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Posted by Know-It-All
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 16, 2011 at 12:39 pm

For more info on Even Start Program, see [Web Link].

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Posted by Confused
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 16, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Who are the majority of customers for this program?

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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on May 17, 2011 at 1:34 pm

It is a shame that Day Care and Preschool don't have a steady source of funds

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Posted by jupiterk
a resident of Gemello
on May 19, 2011 at 3:04 pm

I am completely fine with the consequences because I have no kids. And people with less means should not have kids and expect other taxpayers to pay for their results of carnal pleasures. California should not offer charity to anyone.

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Posted by really
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 20, 2011 at 10:10 am

jupiterk, I'm completely fine with your having no kids!

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Posted by Suggestion
a resident of Blossom Valley
on May 24, 2011 at 7:47 pm

This is a suggestion to the MV Voice...

I think it would be great if your Town Square forums included a "like" or "agree" or "support" button associated w/ each post - so people could express agreement w/ others' posts and participate w/o having to create an entirely new post.

Just a thought. Thanks for your consideration.

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