My husband and I moved to Randolph in the summer of 2013 for the well-respected school system and family-oriented community. Because we both work full time to provide for our family, the After Care (ASK) and Holiday Fun programs are critical for us to maintain a safe and consistent environment for our son.
Two days ago, with only approximately 45 days until the first day of school, Randolph Schools sent out a cold, unapologetic email, from a staff member who I assume is new (as I have never seen his name and nor did he introduce himself or state his role in the district). This employee who may be our new communications manager, informed the entire District of a massive Community School rate increase across all of their programs. Those of us with children in those programs were given no prior notice of the rate increases, which were never mentioned as ever being a likelihood. The parents had no opportunity to openly discuss this critical issue at a Board of Education meeting. In fact, the rate increases were buried among numerous agenda attachments.
In addition, no separate notice was sent to parents who have been patrons of these programs (some for decades), explaining the need for a 31% increase in ASK and doubling the fee for Holiday Fun. Nor did there seem to be any concern expressed about the hardship that this may cause some families who have younger children, such as mine, who are too young to come home to an empty house.
May I ask, how is it possible to double the fees for Holiday Fun and eliminate the sibling discount without a Board vote? According to the motions, the Administration just announced this and there is no motion for these changes. Was this just an “oops” and it was left out and the Board just hoped no one would catch it? Despite the outrage on Facebook and the many complaints voiced directly to the District itself, there has still yet to be any explanation has to why these increases are needed or where the dollars are even being allocated.
How all of a sudden did this become such an emergency / urgent need? The 2019-20 budget process was completed in April, the BOE should have known what the rates were back then but waited until now to announce them? Does the District care that they have backed many of us into a corner? Were these huge increases suddenly needed to hire a full-time Community School Director when we had a part-timer for close to a decade? Or perhaps funds were needed elsewhere and the Board realized that the tax dollars weren’t going to cut it, so they had to look for ways to make money quickly and this is simply a shell game as my husband called it to make ends meet? The District’s ASK program has always been the most cost effective and reliable solution for many families just trying to make ends meet.
From what I have researched, not one of our Board members currently has a child directly in the ASK program. Three are empty nesters, five have older children and the one who has younger children is a stay-at-home mom. The superintendent has no children and may not fully understand the myriad of costs associated with raising them. And not everyone in our community owns a large home like many of our Board members. Some own condos or townhomes and many simply rent. Did anyone consider the financial implications this may have on families who rely heavily on these programs so they can work to make ends meet? Do the Board and Administration simply not care as long as they can find the funds to support other projects or are they choosing to turn a blind eye to the financial strains many of us may have?
I have been sending my son to Center Grove’s ASK since Kindergarten and he is now entering 4th grade. The director of his program “retired” in June. Notice of her retirement was never given to this day and we still are waiting to find out what the plans are for her replacement. The Board recently approved close to 20 staff assignments for 2019-20 for the ASK program and claims that the cost increase is to provide certified teachers, but many are the same high school students and part-time workers we have all known for years.
The communication from our District and attention to our concerns from the Board is lacking and poor at best. I am often silent on the Randolph Residents FB page, but last night I shared my frustrations, as did many parents, and not one board member offered any insight or even acknowledged the commentary. To our Board, we know that many of you were silently watching. You are our board members, we voted for you, we trust you with the welfare of our children and we expect you to listen to our concerns and respond promptly. Over the last year the residents have seen so much drama. We are urging our Board members to turn this into a positive and stop sitting idly by.
What many are seeing is that we live in a town with excellent teachers, but we seem to always get a deaf ear from the Administration and Board and a lack of response by the Board to understand or address our needs as your constituents. Many residents feel the current board feels no need to respond to those who elected you, hiding facts and staying stone-faced at meetings, and many feel you have lost sight of the real issues that concern your own residents. I know many parents like myself have shared that they plan on reaching out privately, asking for action. I hope that the Board does not ignore us and wait for the issue to go away. We won’t and this important issue will not either
I urge all residents who find issues with any and all of the above to speak up and be heard, together we can do right for all of Randolph.
Stacy Greenhut, Randolph