ROXBURY, NJ – The Roxbury Day Care Center, which has operated before- and after-school (BASP) programs in township schools since the early 1980s, is being ousted from its partnership with the school district.
The non-profit organization learned of the change during an Oct. 29 meeting with Roxbury Schools Business Administrator Joseph Mondanaro, according to Roxbury Day Care Center Executive Director Alicia Knight. She said the district’s decision came as a surprise.
Knight said she was not told the rationale behind the change, one that will likely force the center to lay off at least some of the 23 employees it uses to staff the BASP programs.
“I couldn’t tell you why,” she said. “It’s sad. We’ve been there in the schools for a very long time. We are a shared service for the community. We had this partnership with schools for over 30 years.”
On the Meeting Agenda
The dissolution of the arrangement will be the topic of a presentation by Roxbury Schools Superintendent Loretta Radulic at the Nov. 18 Roxbury School Board meeting, said board president Leo Coakley.
“Beginning in 2020, the programs will be run by Roxbury Schools,” Coakley said. “I believe the intent is that (the people staffing the program) will actually be Roxbury teachers who will be better able to help the kids with their homework … Part of it is they can be better integrated into the educational program.”
Coakley also said that, under the current arrangement, Radulic has limited power to rectify problems. “Right now, if there is a complaint by a parent, they are complaining to the superintendent. But she can’t do anything.”
Roxbury Schools spokeswoman Ann Rhodes could not be reached Friday for comment but published a press release about the change. “By the district offering these services, we have the opportunity to serve more families start to finish while continuing instructional services with in-district staff to fill those educational gaps while providing the district an additional revenue stream which is beneficial to the taxpayers of Roxbury,” said Rhodes in the press release.
In an Oct. 30 letter to its customers, Roxbury Day Care Center announced the school district’s decision, which it deemed as “unsettling news.” It urged its clients to contact school officials and to attend the upcoming board meeting.
Knight said the Roxbury Day Care center was also stunned to learn it’s summer camp program, which has taken place for years at Roxbury High School, is also being ousted. Word of that change came via email, with the school district explaining it is going to run its own summer camp starting in 2021, she said.
Roxbury Day Care Center, situated on Righter Road in Succasunna, is a private, non-profit organization that receives funding from a contract with the state Division of Family Development, the United Way of Northern New Jersey, the Morris County Human Services Administration, the Child Care Food Program and through grants and donations.
Knight said the center provides BASP care for 165 children of working parents. The programs take place at all Roxbury elementary schools and at the Lincoln-Roosevelt School for children from Kindergarten through sixth grade.
“We don’t cost the schools anything,” she said. “We are there during times when the custodians are already there. We supply our own cleaning supplies. We have brooms to sweep. We wipe down the tables. We bring our own tissues and paper products and our own food for the kids.”
Knight said word of the change is not sitting well with some of her clients. “We have some upset families,” she said. “This is a program that’s family oriented and that has a staff we love that may not have a job, that may not be here for too long.”
In the press release, Rhodes said the district will offer the Before and After School Enrichment Services (BASES) positions to current Roxbury school staff. "This doesn’t mean though that we wouldn’t fill these positions with individuals from the outside," she said in the release. "All of our job postings will be open for internal and external candidates, and we encourage all qualified applicants to apply. This includes those before and aftercare staff members from the Roxbury Day Care.”