City slashes funds for pre-school programs, parents fume

The funding for teachers at preschools for three- and four-year-olds in nine Boston Center for Youth and Families community centers has been cut for next year, potentially leaving hundreds of parents and toddlers in the lurch.

"They say they're not going to close it, but they're laying off all the teachers," said Adrienne Kaszanek, a mother of a three with a three-year-old son in the Murphy Community Center's preschool. "If they shut down this program, I have nowhere to send him next year, unless I pay $4,400 to send him to Pope John Paul Academy. I'm—along with a lot of other parents—up the creek."

Boston Public Schools also offers preschool for four-year-olds, but Kaszanek said her tot didn't win the lottery to enroll in limited spaces near her home this year, and she refuses to put her young son on a bus to another part of town.

The Murphy also holds a lottery to select students for the preschool, and its three teachers are extremely popular with local parents.

"All of those girls down there are so loving and caring with the students," said Michelle Griffin, a parent of three young girls, one who graduated from the program and two she hopes will follow. "My daughter just bounded out of the car to get there. I don't know what they're going to do with the program, but right now it's just perfect."

Kaszanek estimates there are 18 four-year-olds and 54 three-year-olds in the Murphy's preschool, which holds two-hour classes for the tots two or three times each week. The cost runs $300 per year for three-year-olds or $450 per year for four-year-olds. Costs vary dramatically between community centers. At the Perkins, the cost for preschool is $105 per week for four hours a day.

BCYF spokeswoman Sandy Holden said there are 117 tots affected at three Dorchester community centers, including the Murphy, Perkins and Marshall community centers, and no cuts in Mattapan. Six other centers in the city will also be affected. They include the Ohrenberger in West Roxbury, the Roslindale, the Kent in Charlestown, the Jackson-Mann in Allston and Curtis Hall and the Hennigan in Jamaica Plain.

Director of BCYF Daphne Griffin emphasized that BCYF will be working to help the community center councilsd secure funding to continue all eight of the programs, but that funding has yet to be found. The savings for the city made by laying off the preschool teachers, she said, would be "significant." In the future it will be the responsibility of independent 501c3 community center councils, such as the Richard J. Murphy Community School Council, to raise funds and write grants for the preschools.

"We have identified one possible source of funding with the Department of Early Education and Care and have encouraged your site administrator to apply," Griffin wrote to Murphy parents. "BCYF will continue to support your local community center's childcare program in a variety of ways, including operational costs such as community center space, phone systems, and maintenance as well as technical support with compliance and licensing issues, programming and grant writing."

"The services won't be interrupted," insisted Griffin in a phone interview Monday. "But they may have to change their fee structure."
Yet parents remain skeptical. At the Murphy in particular, parents have railed against the community school council, which they have said was inactive for years. Nineteen new board members, many chomping at the bit to add new programming and reinvigorate the center, were appointed to the council in January.

Acting council chair Joan Pierce said she was accepting of the new members however, and rejected claims that the council had been inactive. Pierce did not immediately return a phone call for this article.

Griffin said BCYF would help steer that board and others overseeing the eight centers affected through the transition.

"We're doing the hands-on work with them because some of them don't have the capacity," she said. "We want to make sure that we maintain a level of services."

Griffin will be meeting with the various councils over the coming months. The meeting at the Murphy will be 5:30 p.m. on April 7.

Meanwhile, the city of Boston's budget process is not yet complete. Though Griffin said the preschool cuts are definitely happening, more cuts may be on the way as negotiations with the city's employee unions and other factors play out. One possible cut, she said, was the elimination of eight assistant coordinator positions at various community centers.

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Comments

I have some questions do you have the answers?

What is the purpose of the Murphy Community Center?
Who needs it anyway?
Why are there community councils?
Why have a pre-school ?
Why should the tax payers of Boston pay for pre-school teachers?
Who needs a summer camp program?
Why have summer jobs for teens?
How can a program that has been successful for over thirty years continue without paid teachers?
Why pay for an unsuccessful city program like the Boston Public Schools?
Should we pay for any teacher for any program in the entire city?
Who should pick and choose to pay for programs?
Has the Murphy been a vehicle for the community?
What is the Murphy Community?
Why is it the only community center within miles of another community center being targeted?
Has someone set an agenda for this school?
How can the administrators of the city attack the dedication of the staff of the Murphy Community after all these years. Who are these sanctimonious people who have not been there when someone was needed to lend a hand, or shown someone the way, or to help someone swim, or to get some help for a troubled teen, or to answer a question for a senior that my seem confused, or,or,or,.
If just one administrator, or political want to be, had just one small iota of a heart and the sincerity of the staff at the Murphy, there would be no argument about what should be closed down or who should be eliminated, they would just know the answer.
Here’s a point. Some of the staff at the Murphy have worked since 1973 for three mayors, countless city councilors, hundreds of administrators, thousands of budget cuts, help service enough people to populate Dorchester itself and have the stuff left in them to reach out their hands and say welcome. I am personally proud to have worked beside them, and volunteered for them, and have my children learn from them for over thirty years.

John DI Perri

This is unacceptable. Our children should not suffer because it is easier for our mayor and his staff to eliminate preschools, rather than taking an honest look at other cuts and layoffs.

This should not be allowed to happen.

Boston Centers For Youth And Families is the name of the department that the Murphy Pre-School falls under.

WHAT A JOKE!!!!!!

The Murphy Pre-School is a wonderful program, and it actually serves the families of Dorchester. So cutting the staff positions for this program must be the obvious choice to those number crunchers in city hall. That would only make sense. Eliminate a program that serves families. Keep all of those people with no show jobs in city hall, hire more consultants with my tax dollars, but get rid of quality educational programs. GREAT IDEA!!!!!!!!

The article talks about the steps that BCYF are taking to make sure the quality of my son's education does not suffer. ANOTHER JOKE!!!!!

The Murphy runs a quaity PRESCHOOL PROGRAM, not a daycare. We send our kids their for a quality first school experience, not for babysitting.

Why wouldn't the program change if they take away the staff positions?????? Oh, according the man at the last Pope's Hill Meeting, basic suppor from BCYF will still be available. I am glad that the telephone will still work in a classroom that has no teachers and no students. Thanks for that support!!!!!

Well, here it is folks. We have a Fire Department, a Police Department, and a Teachers Union who will not agree to a wage freeze to save thier own jobs, or the jobs of the person next to them. Are you really surprised that the city is desperate to make a cut somewhere?

Im not in favor of shutting down the Murphy preschool, I went there myself and hope to send my own kids there, but times are tight, and the city's buck is stretched thin. If the fattest unions in the City wont tighten thier belts for the greater good, this is what we're going to be seeing for the next few years.

Flaherty can make all the promises he wants, but someone has to stand up to these unions, and it sure isnt going to be him, especially since the Fire Department has been doing such a great job keeping his Reporter poll numbers up! The city, like every other institution, is in rough financial shape. This is no time for greed from anyone, especially the unions.

What I find most disheartening about this plan is that the mayor is turning his back on our most vulnerbale citizens during the most vulnerble times in their lives. Our children and working families need consitent and reliable high quality early education. It is proven that kids who have strong education and care from the begining do better in school and better in life. I certainly hope that our "Education Mayor" will rethink this plan!

"The savings for the city made by laying off the preschool teachers, she said, would be "significant.""

This is ridiculous. We are talking about $250,000, when Menino is sitting on a $900M rainy day fund. He could save these programs with just a couple of days of interest accrued to the rainy day fund.

The Union is also willing to help, but the Mayor is deaf to the workers.

Too bad that he's also deaf to the parents and the kids...

Hi,

I'm a student writing an article about the funding cuts in Dorchester preschools for a class. Would anyone be able to answer some questions for me about this issue from a parent's perspective? My email adress is md88@bu.edu.
Thank you.

Very interested to hear the explanation of how the services will not be interupted when the teachers are being layed off! This is a disgrace.