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.