Due to numerous obligations this year, I feel that my communication with parents, staff and community has suffered somewhat. Rumors circulating regarding the Mason ISD Daycare could have been better addressed with more timely communication on my part, however I hope this article helps better articulate the needs and process associated with the recent Mason ISD Board decision to move forward with the daycare proposal. The Mason ISD Daycare Proposal was discussed at three school board meetings: October 27, 2008, February 25, 2009, and April 20, 2009. It passed at the April 20, 2009, school board meeting with a 7-0 vote. At all times, Steady Steps was informed of Mason ISD’s steps in the Mason ISD Daycare process. After the initial proposal in October, much has been done to research this decision. On February 28, 2009, three Mason ISD staff members and one school board member visited Lago Vista ISD who has had a staff daycare for nine years and had started their daycare with only four children.
A daycare usage survey was administered to Mason ISD staff regarding the daycare possibility. Results of the survey were: 73 Mason ISD employees completed the survey, 18 people are expecting or have children under the age of 5, 33 people were interested in their child attending a day care sponsored by Mason ISD, 13 employees would be very likely to use the day care in the future, and 10 said they would be somewhat likely to use the day care in the future.
Mason ISD has inquired about high school students’ children attending; currently a grant called Life Skills Program for Student Parents is being looked into that would provide funding for these children to attend free of charge and their parents (high school students) would be able to attend high school. This grant has not been posted because it is awaiting the 81st Texas Legislative Session. Guidelines for the Daycare are in the process and having the high school parent required to feed their child and work in the daycare is a possibility. These high school students could also get child development credit hours and Tech Prep articulated credit toward a licensure and experience to work in a daycare once they graduate high school.
The Mason ISD Daycare will be available to Mason ISD staff members. Staff members will pay $400 per month (no sliding scale) plus additional supply fees to attend the Mason ISD Daycare. The Mason ISD Daycare could help attract, recruit, and retain new “highly qualified” teachers and staff to our community.
One of the goals of the Mason ISD Daycare is to help other parents in the community who are in need of daycare by freeing up available slots at Steady Steps. Currently there will be 13 Mason ISD staff members’ children attending the Mason ISD Daycare Facility. Out of the 13 staff members’ children who will attend, only 5 of them will actually leave steady steps. To continue the longevity of the Mason ISD Daycare if the possibility to remain at capacity is not fulfilled, Mason ISD could open it to the following: staff grandkids, staff nieces/nephews, adjunct staff kids, and then to open enrollment public use.
Recently, an offer for a home right across the street from the school has been considered. It was being researched as a possibility; however, various requirements and regulations have stalled that process.
Mason ISD has provided a half time certified classroom teacher at Steady Steps Daycare for 2008-09 school year, and will provide a full time teacher for 2009-2010 school year. Mason ISD has also worked in partnership with Steady Steps in the TEEM Grant for all three and four year olds for two school years (benefits of TEEM grant include, but are not limited to, providing quality instruction to children, providing extensive training for teachers, giving CIRCLE assessment which provides important data so teachers can better serve children). Many of these pre-kindergarten changes have been made possible by a grant provided by the Texas Education Agency.
I hope this article has provided some insight into the decision-making process and needs assessment that was conducted by the staff and board before a final decision was made. My objection to the daycare was not based on a disagreement with the need but rather a disagreement with our role in filling that need. The Mason ISD Daycare should be an added benefit to our school and community and will receive my full support moving forward. If there are any other questions or concerns, please feel free to pick up the phone and give me a call. Go Punchers!