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Palo Alto Unified gets into hot water with parents over child care

District reverses plans to reduce space for longtime after-school care provider

A parent raises concerns to the Palo Alto Unified School Board about the district's plans for before- and after-school care for the fall on at a meeting on May 10, 2022. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Parents are objecting to what they describe as a lack of transparency in the Palo Alto Unified School District's decision making after school administrators decided to take space away from a local nonprofit child care provider and give it to a national company — a decision that was reversed this week in the face of fierce opposition.

Palo Alto Unified planned to reduce the space provided to Palo Alto Community Child Care (PACCC) on local elementary school campuses in favor of Right At School. When parents heard last week that PACCC would stop serving fourth and fifth graders in the fall, many objected and called on the district to restore the nonprofit's current space allocation.

Parents also criticized Superintendent Don Austin for disparaging statements he made about PACCC during a panel discussion he participated in with other superintendents, which was video-recorded. Among his comments, he said he couldn't replace PACCC with Right At School because it wasn't "politically" feasible.

The school district ultimately acquiesced and announced on Monday, May 9, that PACCC would maintain its facilities next school year. The nonprofit has confirmed it will continue to serve students through fifth grade. Kid's Choice, another local provider that operates at Lucille M. Nixon Elementary School, will still lose one of the three rooms that it currently has, program staff told the Weekly.

Parents continue to have concerns and questions about district administrators' reasoning for wanting to reduce PACCC's space, why parents weren't consulted and whether the changes might still move ahead in the future.

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"These opaque decision-making processes lack transparency," Daralisa Kelley told the school board at its May 10 meeting. "I'm a working parent — we need added resources, not taking them away."

Austin acknowledged the concerns with the way the planned changes were rolled out but said that the intent was pure and that the district is focused on increasing access to services for all students, including those from lower-income backgrounds.

"We value the contributions of our three providers and we also value the feelings of our families," Austin said at the school board meeting. "We could have handled some things differently this year and I'm going to take full responsibility for that. At the end of the day, it's only me. The intent, however, has been lost in the distractions."

Both before- and after-school care should be available without waiting lists and rates should be as affordable as possible, including free care for lower-income families, Austin said.

PACCC offers after-school "kids' clubs" at all PAUSD elementary schools except Nixon, where Kids Choice runs an after-school program. Right at School currently operates at 11 Palo Alto school sites, offering both before- and after-school care, a company representative said.

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The district's explanations of its reasoning haven't satisfied some parents, who emailed the district and turned out to speak to the Board of Education on Tuesday.

Kelda Jamison, who has two children participating in Kids Choice at Nixon, told the Weekly that she's fully onboard with the district's attempts to improve equity but doesn't understand why that means prioritizing a national provider at the expense of local groups.

"(It) felt like fronting goals that almost all of us align ourselves with and will stand by as cover for pretty unclear decision-making and shoddy execution and communication," Jamison said. "That was very frustrating and very dismaying."

Parent Dona Tversky raises concerns to the Palo Alto Unified School Board about the district's plans for before- and after-school care for the fall on at a meeting on May 10, 2022. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Right At School does offer lower rates than PACCC and Kids Choice, as well as provide a 50% discount for any students who qualify for free or reduced-price school lunches. A representative from Right At School said additional subsidies can make care free for some families.

PACCC, for its part, stated in a May 6 email to parents that it offers scholarships and manages the state, city and PACCC subsidy programs, serving 72 district students through the programs this school year. The letter from Executive Director Lee Pfab also stated that the provider would be able to expand enrollment in the coming school year.

Jamison and other parents questioned whether the district had given Kids Choice and PACCC the chance to make changes and why expanding Right At School had to come at the cost of the existing providers.

Austin declined a request for an interview for this article but said in texts and an email that Right At School's cost and before-school care offerings are important factors for some families. He referred questions to Assistant Superintendent Yolanda Conaway.

In an interview, Conaway stressed that the district is committed to meeting the needs of families at a variety of income levels and said that the goal was to fill gaps in existing services. However, Conaway, who oversees equity and student services, said she isn't responsible for space allocation decisions and directed those questions back to the superintendent, who declined to answer those questions from the Weekly.

Worries about losing beloved child care provider

A community member holds up a sign on which the letters "EKC" (an acronym for Escondido Kids' Club) are surrounded by a heart at a Palo Alto Unified School Board meeting in Palo Alto on May 10, 2022. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Escondido Elementary School parent Sherri Fujieda told the Weekly that when she first heard PACCC was planning to stop serving fourth and fifth graders next school year, she was shocked and worried about how she would find another after school program for her son, who is currently in fourth grade.

"I was sad and panicked because we've been relying on ... PACCC since the kids were very little," Fujieda said. "I love them; the kids love them."

Ohlone Elementary School parent Sarah Parikh said she cried when she heard that older kids would no longer receive care from PACCC. Parikh said her second and fourth grade children have both loved their experiences with PACCC and that they often don't want to leave when she comes to pick them up.

"They really enjoy being there and I think that just speaks volumes," Parikh said. "They're not feeling like it's just babysitting. Instead it's this wonderful thing that they get to experience."

Video raises concerns

Palo Alto Unified School District Superintendent Don Austin criticized Palo Alto Community Child Care in a video that was posted online, and later deleted, by Right at School. Screenshot via video courtesy Right At School.

Adding to the heat and suspicions of district administrators' motivations, parents raised particular objections to comments that Austin made about PACCC in a now-deleted video that parents shared with the Weekly. In the video, Austin speaks about child care options as part of a panel with other superintendents that appears to be facilitated by Right At School.

In response to a question from an audience member about how to approach existing relationships with community providers, Austin spoke disparagingly about PACCC's services.

"It's called Palo Alto Community Child Care, so that was pretty easy to get rid of," Austin said, seemingly sarcastically. "They had everything in their title except for 'We love your kids and we've been here for a long time.'"

He told the audience that PACCC had waitlists, couldn't keep up with demand and provides no scholarships, a claim Pfab contests. The pandemic, he said, gave the district an opportunity to add Right At School as a provider.

"If we had a winner-take-all, it would be Right At School, hands down — but politically, I couldn't do that," Austin said.

He added that districts need to consider how they'll make changes when they have longtime providers that "haven't given you that really compelling, egregious reason to make the change — they've just been bumping along."

Parents told the Weekly that they found Austin's critical comments upsetting, and they also raised questions about Austin's relationship with Right At School and whether he has any conflict of interest.

In a text, Austin told the Weekly that he apologized to PACCC for his "casual comments," but declined to comment further on the video.

Right At School initially posted the video because it showed leading superintendents speaking about the quality and impact of its programs but took the video down to avoid causing further issues, Right At School representative Adam Case said in an interview.

According to Case, Right At School began serving Palo Alto students during the pandemic and currently operates at 11 elementary schools, serving roughly 325 students. The district planned to expand Right At School's space, but the group will now maintain its current operations next school year, Case said.

"Our mission is to serve as many families as we can, to bring these great quality programs, because we know the impact that they have on families, that they have on students," Case said.

PACCC was founded in 1974 and has served students in Palo Alto since. It currently offers after school kids' clubs at 11 PAUSD elementary schools, as well as care for younger kids at various community sites.

PACCC's Pfab declined an interview request from the Weekly but emailed a statement.

"It is PACCC's desire to maintain our historic relationships and programming for PAUSD and Palo Alto families," Pfab said in the statement. "PACCC and PAUSD continue communications regarding concerns brought forward by families. We believe the positive relationship between PACCC and PAUSD will lead us to a solution that meet(s) the needs of Palo Alto families, PAUSD and PACCC."

Questions and worries remain

Parent Aaron Winkler raises concerns to the Palo Alto Unified School Board about the district's plans for before- and after-school care for the fall on at a meeting on May 10, 2022. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Some parents have raised concerns about the fact that the district has only agreed to extend PACCC's current facilities set-up for a single year. In an email to PACCC families that a parent shared with the Weekly, Pfab wrote that her group "has requested a multi-year lease beyond the 2022-2023 school year." According to Austin, all three child care providers will only have a single-year deal for next school year.

There also have been questions about whether the district's plans for Kids Choice, which operates at Nixon Elementary School, will stand. Kids Choice administrators Nery Barrios and Lorene Scatena wrote in an emailed statement that their program is losing one of three rooms that it currently rents. The third room was added two years ago to help accommodate a long waitlist, Barrios and Scatena said.

"We are heartbroken by this decision and hope the district will reconsider so we can continue caring for these kids and their families with whom we have developed deep and trusting relationships," Barrios and Scatena wrote.

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Zoe Morgan covers education, youth and families for the Mountain View Voice and Palo Alto Weekly / PaloAltoOnline.com, with a focus on using data to tell compelling stories. A Mountain View native, she has previous experience as an education reporter in both California and Oregon. Read more >>

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Palo Alto Unified gets into hot water with parents over child care

District reverses plans to reduce space for longtime after-school care provider

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Thu, May 12, 2022, 4:57 pm

Parents are objecting to what they describe as a lack of transparency in the Palo Alto Unified School District's decision making after school administrators decided to take space away from a local nonprofit child care provider and give it to a national company — a decision that was reversed this week in the face of fierce opposition.

Palo Alto Unified planned to reduce the space provided to Palo Alto Community Child Care (PACCC) on local elementary school campuses in favor of Right At School. When parents heard last week that PACCC would stop serving fourth and fifth graders in the fall, many objected and called on the district to restore the nonprofit's current space allocation.

Parents also criticized Superintendent Don Austin for disparaging statements he made about PACCC during a panel discussion he participated in with other superintendents, which was video-recorded. Among his comments, he said he couldn't replace PACCC with Right At School because it wasn't "politically" feasible.

The school district ultimately acquiesced and announced on Monday, May 9, that PACCC would maintain its facilities next school year. The nonprofit has confirmed it will continue to serve students through fifth grade. Kid's Choice, another local provider that operates at Lucille M. Nixon Elementary School, will still lose one of the three rooms that it currently has, program staff told the Weekly.

Parents continue to have concerns and questions about district administrators' reasoning for wanting to reduce PACCC's space, why parents weren't consulted and whether the changes might still move ahead in the future.

"These opaque decision-making processes lack transparency," Daralisa Kelley told the school board at its May 10 meeting. "I'm a working parent — we need added resources, not taking them away."

Austin acknowledged the concerns with the way the planned changes were rolled out but said that the intent was pure and that the district is focused on increasing access to services for all students, including those from lower-income backgrounds.

"We value the contributions of our three providers and we also value the feelings of our families," Austin said at the school board meeting. "We could have handled some things differently this year and I'm going to take full responsibility for that. At the end of the day, it's only me. The intent, however, has been lost in the distractions."

Both before- and after-school care should be available without waiting lists and rates should be as affordable as possible, including free care for lower-income families, Austin said.

PACCC offers after-school "kids' clubs" at all PAUSD elementary schools except Nixon, where Kids Choice runs an after-school program. Right at School currently operates at 11 Palo Alto school sites, offering both before- and after-school care, a company representative said.

The district's explanations of its reasoning haven't satisfied some parents, who emailed the district and turned out to speak to the Board of Education on Tuesday.

Kelda Jamison, who has two children participating in Kids Choice at Nixon, told the Weekly that she's fully onboard with the district's attempts to improve equity but doesn't understand why that means prioritizing a national provider at the expense of local groups.

"(It) felt like fronting goals that almost all of us align ourselves with and will stand by as cover for pretty unclear decision-making and shoddy execution and communication," Jamison said. "That was very frustrating and very dismaying."

Right At School does offer lower rates than PACCC and Kids Choice, as well as provide a 50% discount for any students who qualify for free or reduced-price school lunches. A representative from Right At School said additional subsidies can make care free for some families.

PACCC, for its part, stated in a May 6 email to parents that it offers scholarships and manages the state, city and PACCC subsidy programs, serving 72 district students through the programs this school year. The letter from Executive Director Lee Pfab also stated that the provider would be able to expand enrollment in the coming school year.

Jamison and other parents questioned whether the district had given Kids Choice and PACCC the chance to make changes and why expanding Right At School had to come at the cost of the existing providers.

Austin declined a request for an interview for this article but said in texts and an email that Right At School's cost and before-school care offerings are important factors for some families. He referred questions to Assistant Superintendent Yolanda Conaway.

In an interview, Conaway stressed that the district is committed to meeting the needs of families at a variety of income levels and said that the goal was to fill gaps in existing services. However, Conaway, who oversees equity and student services, said she isn't responsible for space allocation decisions and directed those questions back to the superintendent, who declined to answer those questions from the Weekly.

Escondido Elementary School parent Sherri Fujieda told the Weekly that when she first heard PACCC was planning to stop serving fourth and fifth graders next school year, she was shocked and worried about how she would find another after school program for her son, who is currently in fourth grade.

"I was sad and panicked because we've been relying on ... PACCC since the kids were very little," Fujieda said. "I love them; the kids love them."

Ohlone Elementary School parent Sarah Parikh said she cried when she heard that older kids would no longer receive care from PACCC. Parikh said her second and fourth grade children have both loved their experiences with PACCC and that they often don't want to leave when she comes to pick them up.

"They really enjoy being there and I think that just speaks volumes," Parikh said. "They're not feeling like it's just babysitting. Instead it's this wonderful thing that they get to experience."

Adding to the heat and suspicions of district administrators' motivations, parents raised particular objections to comments that Austin made about PACCC in a now-deleted video that parents shared with the Weekly. In the video, Austin speaks about child care options as part of a panel with other superintendents that appears to be facilitated by Right At School.

In response to a question from an audience member about how to approach existing relationships with community providers, Austin spoke disparagingly about PACCC's services.

"It's called Palo Alto Community Child Care, so that was pretty easy to get rid of," Austin said, seemingly sarcastically. "They had everything in their title except for 'We love your kids and we've been here for a long time.'"

He told the audience that PACCC had waitlists, couldn't keep up with demand and provides no scholarships, a claim Pfab contests. The pandemic, he said, gave the district an opportunity to add Right At School as a provider.

"If we had a winner-take-all, it would be Right At School, hands down — but politically, I couldn't do that," Austin said.

He added that districts need to consider how they'll make changes when they have longtime providers that "haven't given you that really compelling, egregious reason to make the change — they've just been bumping along."

Parents told the Weekly that they found Austin's critical comments upsetting, and they also raised questions about Austin's relationship with Right At School and whether he has any conflict of interest.

In a text, Austin told the Weekly that he apologized to PACCC for his "casual comments," but declined to comment further on the video.

Right At School initially posted the video because it showed leading superintendents speaking about the quality and impact of its programs but took the video down to avoid causing further issues, Right At School representative Adam Case said in an interview.

According to Case, Right At School began serving Palo Alto students during the pandemic and currently operates at 11 elementary schools, serving roughly 325 students. The district planned to expand Right At School's space, but the group will now maintain its current operations next school year, Case said.

"Our mission is to serve as many families as we can, to bring these great quality programs, because we know the impact that they have on families, that they have on students," Case said.

PACCC was founded in 1974 and has served students in Palo Alto since. It currently offers after school kids' clubs at 11 PAUSD elementary schools, as well as care for younger kids at various community sites.

PACCC's Pfab declined an interview request from the Weekly but emailed a statement.

"It is PACCC's desire to maintain our historic relationships and programming for PAUSD and Palo Alto families," Pfab said in the statement. "PACCC and PAUSD continue communications regarding concerns brought forward by families. We believe the positive relationship between PACCC and PAUSD will lead us to a solution that meet(s) the needs of Palo Alto families, PAUSD and PACCC."

Some parents have raised concerns about the fact that the district has only agreed to extend PACCC's current facilities set-up for a single year. In an email to PACCC families that a parent shared with the Weekly, Pfab wrote that her group "has requested a multi-year lease beyond the 2022-2023 school year." According to Austin, all three child care providers will only have a single-year deal for next school year.

There also have been questions about whether the district's plans for Kids Choice, which operates at Nixon Elementary School, will stand. Kids Choice administrators Nery Barrios and Lorene Scatena wrote in an emailed statement that their program is losing one of three rooms that it currently rents. The third room was added two years ago to help accommodate a long waitlist, Barrios and Scatena said.

"We are heartbroken by this decision and hope the district will reconsider so we can continue caring for these kids and their families with whom we have developed deep and trusting relationships," Barrios and Scatena wrote.

Comments

Teacher
Registered user
Palo Alto High School
on May 12, 2022 at 6:05 pm
Teacher, Palo Alto High School
Registered user
on May 12, 2022 at 6:05 pm

Meet Don Austin! Welcome to the party, people. This is how he rolls. He is rude, flippant, unprofessional, and definitely not a transparent decision maker. This is how many decisions in PAUSD are made. He makes decisions based on what is in his political best interest. You elected him, or at least the Board that chose him and keeps choosing to keep him, and you can also vote him/them out.


Palo Alto Res
Registered user
Downtown North
on May 12, 2022 at 6:06 pm
Palo Alto Res, Downtown North
Registered user
on May 12, 2022 at 6:06 pm

"intentions are pure" just the actions suck.
I believe there is a reason why there is a popular expression that goes, "Actions speak louder than words."

Watch his actions while his words try to distract you.


Palo Alto Res
Registered user
Downtown North
on May 12, 2022 at 6:08 pm
Palo Alto Res, Downtown North
Registered user
on May 12, 2022 at 6:08 pm

Agree with @Teacher. Numerous parents throughout Palo Alto, the moment they voice any disagreement or question something, he sends out the most rudest emails to parents. If every parent who received a rude email from Don Austin read it at the Board district meetings, we would have to question why the Board supported hiring Don Austin, and why the Board is still in power today, pushing their own personal agendas.


Sriley90
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 12, 2022 at 6:15 pm
Sriley90, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on May 12, 2022 at 6:15 pm

The idea that the intentions are pure - is just not honest. He said that PACCC does not offer SCHOLARSHIPS. does he even know anything about this program? I will be flat out. I was a PACCC scholarship kid in 1990 and my 4 children are CURRENT scholarship kids from infant -toddler through preschool and again in the after school program. PACCC has been where I felt safe as a child and where my children felt safe and supported when doing elementary school online. I am very disturbed and find it comical that right at school felt this video was speaking so highly of them while throwing dirt on PACCCS name. Clearly his words are a distraction to the underlying message here. I almost wonder if there is a conflict of interest with right at school and Mr.Austin. That should be looked into as to feel so passionate about them disturbs me.


Camocho
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on May 12, 2022 at 6:35 pm
Camocho, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on May 12, 2022 at 6:35 pm

[Portion removed.] If you say anything against [Don Austin] he will write the rudest and meanest thing and shut you up like a bad politician! His agenda is to rise up the ladder - that’s IT! The board will facilitate that since their agenda is also similar!
This sup and the board has to be flipped! Otherwise this school is going downhill. I know this family of three little kids who moved to Danville; another family moved out of state just because this school isn’t the same as it was before!


super chicana
Registered user
Palo Alto High School
on May 12, 2022 at 7:55 pm
super chicana, Palo Alto High School
Registered user
on May 12, 2022 at 7:55 pm

Zoe, thank you for covering this. It gives a lot of insight into the Superintendent’s feelings about this community. I would argue he is less than honest with the community when he states that he is concerned with equity and access. My daughter is a Native American child and we have had a nightmare of a time with access. If you would like to contact me about our family’s story please call me at (415)297-6009.( Or any parents fighting the district with an IEP call me. Let’s compare legal notes.) I get these are separate issues but the district is managed by the same group of people with very similar approaches to most things. I encourage you to please keep digging and follow the money. What is Right At School promising districts or individual superintendents? It must be enough to disrupt business as usual. What is to be gained by the district and at what cost to the community? One should ask themselves what is in for a superintendent that is just passing through to end PACCC? None of them stay long, many are forced to resign, and PACCC has been part of Palo Alto for almost 50 years.My children went there and the quality is not surpassed. They have mature, kind adults that provide great care to children. Why would someone want to disrupt our established child care? I think the best way to evaluate a company is by what the workers say. Maybe some of this info will help the parents:
Web Link
One, I can see mangers are out of state. This means cheap labor, lack of connection with the community and definitely not shared CA values of inclusivity. Secondly, staff complain about turn over and abuse by management. They are based in Illinois. None of this aligns with CA values. Would it also prevent labor law suits? Sounds a lot like corporate greed, good ol boys network and a shady super trying to sell it all to a very smart cohesive community who you cannot “politically” pull one over on. Kudos to the parents.


S. Underwood
Registered user
Crescent Park
on May 12, 2022 at 7:55 pm
S. Underwood, Crescent Park
Registered user
on May 12, 2022 at 7:55 pm

"that's our approach ... the slow drip" ....

Just wow.

What leadership we have. Eroding trust and quality, drip by drip. Imagine how lost the average Palo Alto parent would be without a big strong leader, teaching them day by day the realpolitik always lurking behind the curtain when you're talking about wrap-around childcare. Just wow.

Here's a better idea, with as little cynicism as I can muster. If what you are trying to do would never play if you were open and honest about aims and intentions, and it wouldn't fly with your community if not for histrionics and misdirections and false motives... well, then maybe you'd be better off not doing it? Maybe.


PA Streets
Registered user
Charleston Meadows
on May 12, 2022 at 8:02 pm
PA Streets, Charleston Meadows
Registered user
on May 12, 2022 at 8:02 pm

I wanted to like this superintendent but his flippant and ignorant comments about PACCC show that he does not respect our community. He lacks transparency and accountability. He has directed all questions to Yolanda Conway who in turn passed the buck back to Don Austin. I hope the Weekly does more digging and checks if Austin has a conflict of interest with Right at School. Did they pay for him to attend that conference where he spoke on that infamous video? RAS is a for profit business and is not accredited. It’s just a glorified daycare. PACCC has been an integral part of our community for nearly 50 years. Their teachers help our kids with homework in their elementary after-school programs. I doubt RAS provides the same level of care. PAUSD board better take note regarding this superintendent’s actions and lack of respect for our community.


S. Underwood
Registered user
Crescent Park
on May 12, 2022 at 8:08 pm
S. Underwood, Crescent Park
Registered user
on May 12, 2022 at 8:08 pm

"Did they pay for him to attend that conference where he spoke on that infamous video? RAS is a for profit business and is not accredited. It’s just a glorified daycare."

... as much as I have been disheartened by Don Austin's demeanor and decisions, that's not a suspicion that you can throw around, even if stated as a question. If it were true, it would be an egregious and almost certainly job-disqualifying ethics violation. If you know something, say it and cite it. If not... well... then don't.

As for your frustration with the buck being passed around, I can't agree more. Usually Todd Collins plays middle-man in that carousel. Maybe he's dizzy.


Samuel L
Registered user
Meadow Park
on May 12, 2022 at 8:32 pm
Samuel L, Meadow Park
Registered user
on May 12, 2022 at 8:32 pm

Is there anyone that still believes that Don Austin has any concern for students, families or the community? He talks a good game in public, but he's usually scheming behind the scenes.

Even this won't stop him from trying to get to his end game.

He thinks he's clever, funny and charming. He's actually just a bully who will say anything in order to get his way. I'm actually shocked that some of the board members continue to put up with it.

How's that whole "transparency" thing going?


Bystander
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 12, 2022 at 9:57 pm
Bystander, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on May 12, 2022 at 9:57 pm

Does anyone else notice that for the last 15 years or so, nobody has had a good word to say for any of the superintendents PAUSD has gone through!

I have no idea of the competentcy of the present superintendent from any type of experience as our kids are no longer in school, but I will add a cliche of warning.

Better the devil you know than the one you don't!

The next one, judging from past experiences, will be no better.


Nancy Shepherd
Registered user
Southgate
on May 13, 2022 at 7:31 am
Nancy Shepherd, Southgate
Registered user
on May 13, 2022 at 7:31 am

Palo Alto has been a leader in childcare for over 50 years. In 1969 six mothers asked Palo Alto City Council to provide high quality affordable child care so women could go back to work. In 1974 PACCC organized as a nonprofit heavily subsidized by the City with two staff members in the city managers office. In 1989 a 25 year lease between the City and PAUSD was created for on campus care and we have been delivering these service continually since that time.

PACCC is required to be licensed and offer high quality program based on Department of Education standards for early childhood education (ECE) which identifies specific student-teacher ratios. We recruit staff with college degrees or equivalent work experience in ECE, some hold masters degrees. We pay fair wage based on job title, and start pay at living wage for SCC (about $23/hour). Tuition is $50 more than RAS, we have a low attrition rate of staff and families, and high feedback from parents rating our programs. We continue to evolve to meet the needs of families and kids.

Our Family Partnership Program developed in 2001 combines City, PAUSD and PACCC funds for scholarship and subsidy programs to qualifying families.

PACCC is a product of thought leadership that established seamless education for families beginning at 2 months old. I’m proud to serve on the shoulders of these leaders as PACCC Board Chair this year and be part of a Palo Alto legacy project.


Tod
Registered user
Green Acres
on May 13, 2022 at 9:43 am
Tod, Green Acres
Registered user
on May 13, 2022 at 9:43 am

Another great article Zoe…gold mine for you…especially austin denying an interview then pushing you off on the vice principal and being bounced back up….makes you wonder what is at the superintendent’s discretion…it’s tricky to run a school district and in hindsight the damn the torpedoes mindset served well in the fear of Covid… but when you set yourself up in opposition to the schools nonprofit ecosystem and casually promote a for profit option.. that is unpaid promotion and really stupid… a payoff is not the issue it’s the dividing, lack of trust building and petty selfishness…he shouldn’t be making that decision and if he doesn’t understand that then he needs to work on transitioning…many school districts are at a point where fiscal cutbacks might warrant a lower cost provider.. but to target institutions in this manner is indicative if not grounds for dismissal… can’t have that know better attitude and not kill the morale of a system run on the backs of parent involvement then stonewall… it’s a shame


Diana
Registered user
Downtown North
on May 13, 2022 at 9:53 am
Diana, Downtown North
Registered user
on May 13, 2022 at 9:53 am

I was one of the parents affected by this issue and fought hard to reverse the decision. However, I agree with a previous comment that the job of PAUSD superintendent is an impossible one, in terms of pleasing most of the community. Yes, the comments that Don made were a bit off, yes, sometimes his behaviour may be a bit lacking, but overall I think he is an effective superintendent, so let's try to bring some balance into the conversation and not demonize these people. The PAUSD is a well run district that provides excellent educational opportunities for our children, the PAUSD parent community (of which I am a vocal member) is also particularly demanding and hard to please.


peppered
Registered user
Community Center
on May 13, 2022 at 11:14 am
peppered, Community Center
Registered user
on May 13, 2022 at 11:14 am

A superintendent who declines to respond to questions by the press, in the manner that Austin did in this case, should be fired the same damn day.


Native to the BAY
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on May 13, 2022 at 11:18 am
Native to the BAY, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on May 13, 2022 at 11:18 am

I agree with Don Austin and the District. Just because PACCC has been historically serving Palo Atto since 1974 does not mean it's doing a great job. As a low income, working single parent with three small children I filled out the application for full after-school care. I was put on a dizzyingly long wait list. When dealing with PACCC regarding my eligibility and status, I felt they were dismissive and unconcerned with my desperation to find good, safe, supervisory, care for my kids. It felt like an exclusive club that shuffled me off with words like, "Unfortunately , no bandwidth, lack of budget." In the end I was too poor and did not have the income for 100% or at 75% shared cost (which would have gotten my kids in). 100% coverage was a long shot and impacted by "budgetary" City funding limits. Emails and phone calls were not returned and I had to chase them down to get answers to basic questions about my application and need. Though I fell in the extremely low income level, there was no referrals for any other resource provided in Palo Alto to help us. It felt extremely humiliating to go to such personal lengths to reveal all about my finances, get reference etc, only to get nothing from them in the mail, or a phone call to tell me they were at capacity and my kids were not "selected" to participate. I had to find out that the waitlist was five years out and worse even having one or more children near the same age. Which I was astounded and shocked to hear. Their staff was not very welcoming or concerned for the welfare of children. The City of Palo Alto does not subsidize enough for such critical "social infrastructure". Why not go National? Since the City is miserly about funding anything other than paid "private consultants" and kicking cans down the road.


D. Smith
Registered user
Barron Park
on May 13, 2022 at 11:19 am
D. Smith, Barron Park
Registered user
on May 13, 2022 at 11:19 am

It seems as though Mr. Austin is here soley to feed his own ego and do exactly what he wants with little or no regard for the opinion of others. That way he can go out with a bang!
It isn't the first time that a superintendent has used our district for that purpose!


Forever Name
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 13, 2022 at 12:24 pm
Forever Name, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on May 13, 2022 at 12:24 pm

PAUSD Superintendent works for the Board. They hired Austin. You get what you vote for. Vote the current Board out, and a more competent Board will fire Austin & bring someone new in.

Upcoming Elections:
Keep in mind all of the decisions that PAUSD Board has made that have been wrong & destructive, with data to support. Apparently Board is hoping these will be forgotten? For example, the damage PAUSD secondary schools being online for 1 year did to disadvantaged & minority students who were hit the hardest, supported by data (recent NYT article, David Leonhardt, Pulizter Prize winning investigative reporter). Keep in mind many of these TERRIBLE ideas were championed/pushed through by Jennifer DiBrienza. Fact: in PA Online article DiBrienza quoted false statement saying she listened to the "experts", not the teachers union, and voted to keep "schools open", when in reality she voted along with the board unanimously in Aug 2020 to keep secondary schools 7-12 closed for an additional six months. Here are examples of destructive, unethical ideas approved by Jennifer DiBrienza and the rest of your PAUSD School Board:
- closing PAUSD secondary schools for a full year unnecessarily to appease PAEA Teachers Union March 2020 - March 2021
- early start time @ 9am for secondary starting fall 2022; both teachers & students have expressed they hate
- push for CMF (Calif Math Framework) new math program created by Prof Jo Boaler, now being investigated for fraudulent research at Stanford Univ (see WSJ article); focuses on enjoying the idea of math instead of mastering skills. Stanford Prof Brian Conrad, head of undergraduate math at Stanford, has analyzed & stated publically CMF will be destructive for all students, but especially disadvantaged students, who will be unprepared for STEM majors/careers
- supporting Austin in firing local PACC managers & bringing in a for profit national company

All supported by Jennifer DiBrienza & the current School Board.

Vote


Mrs Norman Conradson
Registered user
Menlo Park
on May 13, 2022 at 1:01 pm
Mrs Norman Conradson, Menlo Park
Registered user
on May 13, 2022 at 1:01 pm

I was hired as a day care provider at Neighborhood Infant and Toddler Center (NITC) many years ago. I had a bachelors degree in psychology and a Masters degree in Social Work as well as many units at university level in Early Childhood Education. I loved the children and the high standards and the parent interaction. I am so sorry if the finances are such that those same high qualities cannot also provide enough care for all the children in the community who need it. I know that even in my day, there were waiting lists because the amount of spaces in order to keep to the teacher child ratio were extremely limited, but are so necessary for quality care.


super chicana
Registered user
Palo Alto High School
on May 13, 2022 at 1:52 pm
super chicana, Palo Alto High School
Registered user
on May 13, 2022 at 1:52 pm

Dear Native of the Bay Area,

As a native of the bay you should be aware of 4Cs. It’s a state program administered by the counties. They will give emergencies child care funding to anyone in need. If you are going to lose your job or housing due to child care issues they will move you to the top of the list and have you funded within a week. They will pay for all 3 kids in full and PACCC will accept their funding.

Sounds like instead of the super helping you with this you became his mouth piece. A National program lacks the quality of care that Palo Alto families demand. Massive cheap childcare with poorly trained disgruntled labor (see the link with my previous post) may be a reality in many places, it does not have to be in Palo Alto. Palo Alto has the right to quality care. Reach out to 4cs. If your situation is as dire as you state, there are multiple programs available. The district should have referred you to help instead of pimped you for their cause.

If Right AT Home is such a great program why do they have to latch on to taxpayer money and schools districts like parasites? If they are that good at what they do they should open up a center in the open market and people will come. They use public land/ space for private profit. What a scam!!!

They are after FREE RENT. And someone at the district has something to gain in some way…….


EYC
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on May 13, 2022 at 2:59 pm
EYC, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on May 13, 2022 at 2:59 pm

My kid was in Addison for 6 years, Kinder-5th. We were on the PACCC's waiting line for at least 3 years. It's impossible to get in if you don't have older siblings who were already in the program. Usually there were only a small numbers of 4th and 5th graders in the program because they had after-school sports practices. Or they lost interests in the program because they had been there for 3 years already. They got tired of it. So, it may not impact much if the new company eliminate taking care of 4th & 5th.
So, change maybe good for the community.


Parent-PAUSD
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 13, 2022 at 4:00 pm
Parent-PAUSD, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on May 13, 2022 at 4:00 pm

As the parent of a special needs kid in PAUSD, I explored 3 aftercare options for my kid (PACCC, RAS, JCC). While I found all of them very responsive and welcoming, when we compared the location proximity, cost, waitlists and inclusiveness in practice, we choose RAS over PACCC. RAS was more responsive, welcomed my kid's therapist on-site and was willing to listen and accommodate our requests proactively. PACCC on the other hand offered a waitlist and I paid the waitlist cost and enrolled. JCC was far for us (commute-wise) and was not an option.

While the debate can and should continue to have PACCC at school-sites, I do think have 2-3 after-school providers at school-site gives the parents a choice and an opportunity to choose what works for them. Non-profit and For-profit are not preliminary concerns for me since finding affordable child-care that is inclusive is preliminary and everything else comes later. Just my perspective.


Anony Mouse
Registered user
Triple El
on May 13, 2022 at 4:39 pm
Anony Mouse, Triple El
Registered user
on May 13, 2022 at 4:39 pm

This leadership does not represent our community values. We value transparency, clear communication, honesty and care for our children. Let's be really clear here, Dr. Don is not serving your child, the schools, the unions, other administrators or anyone else. He only serves a minimum of 3 PAUSD Board members. That's it. Those are the only people he needs to make happy. Apparently they're all happy with this situation, since they are all completely silent. Reach out and let them know your opinion. This institution is in grave danger of being seriously, permanently harmed by this leadership. That will affect our children. This incident gives a small window into what's going on. For further information, I urge you to consult the Palo Alto Educator's Association's social media. The numbers they've posted are pretty shocking.


Community Member
Registered user
Midtown
on May 13, 2022 at 11:29 pm
Community Member, Midtown
Registered user
on May 13, 2022 at 11:29 pm

Dear EYC,
Long waitlists at PACCC may have happened during the bubble but is less impacted now and that would be a reason to expand PACCC. Offering another provider isn’t the issue, cutting space for current providers so they can’t continue to serve families that want continuity of care is.
Dear Native of the Bay,
If you didn’t attend PACCC then you cannot attest to the quality of care. Again like EYC, your waitlist issue would be resolved with expanding PACCC not taking away. The tuition difference is $50 a month and the experienced teachers and high quality standards PACCC meets as evidenced by licensing and teacher to child ratios as well as paying their teachers at a living wage means that $50 goes a long way. I’m sorry to hear of your struggles and recommend looking into the resources suggested by super chicana.


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