WNCC to keep child-care center open | NevadaAppeal.com

WNCC to keep child-care center open

Joanna Welch

It’s a mad dash for Karen Jones to collect her daughter on time from day care.

But even if she doesn’t arrive until minutes before Western Nevada Community College’s Child Development Center closes, Jones is reassured that Melanie will be busy. She may be painting, reading or working on a jigsaw with either her head teacher or assistant teacher and not waiting hopefully at the door to be collected.

It was a guarantee that Jones cherished, and for a while she thought it was endangered. She and other parents received assurances Monday from WNCC President Carol Lucey the center will remain open.

The center declined over a period of months as staff quit, parents pulled their children and morale plummeted.

“There were many disgruntled parents who pulled their kids,” she said. “We thought about it.”

That decline was reversed when Claudia Funk was appointed as the new director on Aug. 11.

Junk food was replaced with nutritious snacks, parental concerns were addressed, the curriculum was revamped, additional services were added and assistants were hired to help each head teacher, Funk said.

It proved to be an effective strategy, as enrollment increased by 9 percent from September to October.

But the increase is below what Funk had projected and, to date, has not been enough to cover added costs.

“When I came on board, we were looking for assistant teachers because our emphasis is on quality,” Funk said. “It takes time and we didn’t anticipate (the increased enrollment) would take this long to pick up.”

At a Nov. 18 meeting, administrators proposed cutting assistant teachers to balance the books.

It didn’t go down well with the 40 parents who attended the meeting.

“We feel that (the additional teachers) are the best part of the center. It’s what makes it more than child care,” Jones said. “The real strength and the continued strength of the center has always been the programs, the curriculum.”

The administration’s proposal bothered Melanie Bruketta, whose son attends the center.

“(Claudia) is an excellent teacher, she’s working towards her credentials and she has amazing interaction with the kids,” is how Bruketta described the assistant teacher in her son’s room. “The center has improved since Claudia took over and we don’t want to reverse it.”

“My son is learning every day of the week,” she said. “I’m extremely happy.”

The proposal was revisited Monday night and Lucey agreed the college would pay the shortfall to retain the assistant teachers for an initial period of two months.

The agreement says enrollment must grow by at least four children per month. It will be reviewed every two months. Currently there are 64 children enrolled in the program with 16 families on a drop_in basis.

“Dr. Lucey’s first statement was, ‘There would always be a child care facility at WNCC,'” Funk said.

The parents are optimistic that enrollment will rise.

Families need to know that WNCC’s red and white building is a quality day care, Jones said.

“There has been no advertising, no marketing. We’re not in the yellow pages. It’s all been word of mouth,” she said. “I’m very pleased that (Lucey) showed up for our meeting. And we’re very pleased with the support, but I think she was impressed with the center’s parental support, too.”