Parents fight proposed closure of city-run preschool

A popular city-run preschool program is on the chopping block as Lynnwood officials look for ways to plug a $21 million budget gap. But one group of concerned parents is not letting it go without a fight.

Like all city departments, Parks and Recreation is looking for ways to trim its budget. Department managers have been told to cut $1.9 million. The Kids Klub preschool is on the list of proposed reductions. It would close at the end of this December.

“It is very difficult to find a well-run, quality preschool program that fits your educational philosophy, location needs, schedule requirements and budget,” said Alissa Viertel, mother of 4-year-old student in the program.  “Not to mention, finding one with an open spot in the middle of the (school) year, and then having to reintroduce your 4-year-old to a new class, new teacher, new routine.”

Kids Klub serves 35 children. Parents pay $205 per month for the part-time program.

Parks and Rec Director Lynn Sordel told the City Council earlier this month that Kids Klub is one of the programs that has a 90 percent cost recovery, but it’s also considered one of the discretionary programs. “We were challenged by the magnitude of the cuts,” he said.

Joe McNames spoke out against the elimination of the preschool program at a City Council meeting last week.

“My son Quinn is 4-years-old. He knows nothing of budget cuts or recessions but he knows that he goes to school Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and Miss Christa and Miss Jamie are there to teach him. To pull a child from his school mid-year is an unacceptable mistake,” McNames said.

The parents have started a website to organize against the proposed cut.

“We know that the Council is faced with a daunting budget situation,” Viertel said. “We are asking that, at a minimum, the Council fund Kids Klub through the end of the 2010-2011 school year.”

“No one wishes to discontinue any programs,” Councilman Jim Smith said. “However, the train wreck that the administration has presented to us is real.”

Smith said he spoke to Trinity Lutheran preschool, which has agreed to accept many of the students for the rest of the school year.

The 2011-2012 balanced budget must be approved in December.

    1. Indeed, why is this city doing half of the asinine things it’s got its fingers into? This program is only one of many examples of the never-ending bloat that characterizes Lynnwood. This city’s government has metastasized into all kinds of areas it should never have been in to begin with.

      As for the kids, well, sorry parents, but I don’t have kids to take advantage of this nice little perk and I’m done subsidizing you. You want to have kids, then be sure you can provide for them out of your own pocket and not rely upon your neighbors’ tax moneys being appropriated to subsidize your chosen family lifestyle. We all have to make cuts. Get used to it.

      1. We are supporting our kids. We pay for Kids Klub. I’m sure you think that you are self-sufficient and that you get nothing for your tax dollars, but I’m pretty sure that’s not the case. Police and fire departments spend more than they take in, but we pay for them because we as a community have decided through our elected officials that the city should provide such services. The same with roads and public works. There are plenty of services and programs that don’t appeal to every constituency, but they make up a community. Preschools, parks, senior centers are all things that contribute to quality of life in a community.
        And for the record, I know of at least one preschool where I could send my son for the same amount of instruction for $2 less than I’m play for Kids Klub.

        1. Yes, and unfortunately I am also supporting your kids. Operative word, “your.” I’m childless by choice, but if I did choose to bring a new life into this world I’d be damn sure I could provide for it without extorting money from my neighbors to subsidize them. The sole exception to this rule is public education; everything else is entirely on me as the parent.

          To be honest, it probably amounts to pocket change, so from a pragmatic standpoint it really wouldn’t bother me ordinarily. However, there is nothing “ordinary” about the current state of affairs. *ALL* bets are off when you have a city government threatening ME and MY family with the loss of police and fire protection because the budget is in a shitty shambles.

          I’m sorry, but if we’re going to lose core services like police and fire, then every non-essential nice-to-have absolutely must be cut first — including a pet preschool program that only benefits a small number of people at the expense of everybody else. Same goes for the senior center, our gazillion dollar swimming pool and 1/3 of the useless administrative bloat in city hall.

          1. You know, it’s not extortion. It’s this little thing called democracy. We elect officials who make decisions, including those decisions to levy taxes and implement programs. Kids Klub has been going quite successfully for something like 25 years. If you don’t like the city’s decision to run a preschool, you can vote against it. Your point of view is not the only one, and in the case of Kids Klub it is not a majority view. You will be happy to know, however, that for all of $20/kid/month, along with some restructuring, Kids Klub is now budget neutral. So you are no longer subsidizing my son. Of course, I don’t know anything about you, so I don’t know how I’m still subsidizing you. But that’s okay. I don’t need or use every service my community provides, but I do need and use some. You may not need or use the same services that I do, but I’m certain that you use others. So you pay for some stuff that I use but you don’t. I’ll do the same for you, and we’ll get along just swimmingly. That’s what living in a community is all about.

  1. The same could be asked about golf courses, senior centers, artistic programs, afterschool programs. The answer is that the community wants these facilities and programs to improve the health, safety and quality of life and has made this clear enough to the elected leaders of the city that they have created them and made them valued elements of our community. Now, tough decisions have to be made about the budget, but throwing 35 four year-olds out of school in the middle of the year is the wrong decision to make. They did not create the problem, and the loss of their school during this critical pre-K year will have a detrimental impact on their education.

  2. Yes to renting the golf course to a third party, closing the senior center and canceling all artistic programs but no to closing the pre-school… just yet. I believe two weeks ago the Parks Department presented a budget for the coming year and did not mention any funds for snow removal?? I maybe wrong but it would seem prudent to include something in the budget for snow removal. Yet the city has plans to spend $60k for a new website.

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