LETTER: Elimination of Half Day Transition by Schools Hurts Working Families

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This letter was originally sent to School Administrators and the School Committee:

I am sure by now you have received considerable feedback from your decision to eliminate coverage on half day transitions to extended day. While your reasoning might have been sound and based on contractual and financial considerations, the impact your decision has on working families in Watertown is far greater than you might have considered.

We have enjoyed the advantages of the Extended Day Program at the Hosmer for the past three years. Your staff is accommodating, the program is engaging and the convenience is exactly what we need. By eliminating the bridge period between scheduled half days and the extended day program, you have effectively caused us and most of the families that pay for your program a great deal of hardship and confusion.

We already have two winter vacations, numerous staff and professional days and school holidays where we either have to find coverage or use hard earned vacation days. For those families who’s parents are paid hourly, you are literally costing them the income they need to afford the child care in the first place.

Additionally, your method of communication about these changes leaves much to be desired. Dropping lines about the changes into a curriculum and scheduling memo three weeks before the start of school is tone-deaf at best and disingenuous in any case. This information was not brought up at the school meetings and reaction from the various message boards is that many of the officials involved were either not made aware of the changes or did not vote on them. In any case, we were not informed until we received today’s communication, which I find unacceptable.

Please reconsider your decision to inconvenience the dozens of working families who have been affected by this undiscussed decision.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Jason Fine
Riverside Street

4 thoughts on “LETTER: Elimination of Half Day Transition by Schools Hurts Working Families

  1. And the follow up letter from the Superintendent today was equally ridiculous. The word that came to mind was, incompetent. How much more of this lack of problem solving skills are we as her employer supposed to take? From the overcrowding problem to this latest fiasco. Long term solutions are not her forte. What parent is going to leave work for an hour to pick up their child, only to bring them back 2 hours later, and expect to keep their job? It makes no sense whatsoever. Notifying parents less than a month before school starts is unacceptable. Once again, the kids and their parents are put last on this Superintendents priority list.

  2. I think there are 3 problems here:

    The first is that the school district was unwilling to provide extended day coverage between the early release time and the normal beginning of extended day – and poorly communicated that to parents. As mentioned by many others already, this shows a disregard for the needs of working parents.

    The second problem is that the school district decided to schedule 8 half-days of school for parent/teacher conferences instead of having those conferences after school or at night. It’s more disruptive to the students and parents to have to deal with all those half-days – especially given the district’s decision to not provide extra extended day coverage.

    The third problem is that full and half day professional development is being scheduled on school days during normal school hours. Why do we allow this? Professional development could happen after the end of the school day, during Winter, February or April vacation weeks, online at night, on weekends or outside of the school year. I’m not saying that educators should have to use their unpaid personal time for professional development – they should be paid – but it should not disrupt the school day. There are so many school holidays (24!) that parents need to contend with, why do we allow 6 professional days to further fragment the school calendar?

  3. Watertown Boys & Girls Club is open after school 5 days a week and all day during school vacation weeks. When the schools have a half day, we open as soon as school lets out. We’ve tried to work with the school system to establish transportation from Cunniff and Lowell with no luck. But, if you can get your kids here, we’d love to provide them with enriching activities and caring adult mentors.

  4. Thanks! But we can’t get our child from point A to point B while we’re at work. That’s why we pay for extended day at the school. The school system is really letting down working parents with these early release professional development days. I don’t understand why 2600 students and their families should be asked to rearrange their schedules to accommodate the training schedules of 260 school employees. It should be the other way around.

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