By Jacob Wilson/Garden Grove Journal
The Westminster School District will offer free or low-cost preschool services to 800 low-income families as well as after school child care and developmental services for another 115 low-income students.
Funding for both programs comes from the California Department of Education. The WSD Board of Trustees approved contracts with the CDE for the services during its Aug. 11 meeting.
The district’s preschool service is part of the California State Preschool Program. The CSSP is the largest public preschool program in the country. Preschool services are for children between three and five years old and include both half-day and full-day programs.
The after school child care and developmental services are part of the state’s General Child Care and Development Program. The program is for children up to 12 years old and teens with special needs. Both programs include age-appropriate curriculum, parent education opportunities and referrals to social services when needed.
The district will receive over $3 million from the CDE to cover costs. The bulk of the money, $2.7 million, is for the preschool program.
The board also approved seven upcoming educational conferences by a 4-1 margin. Four conferences are in Costa Mesa. The other three are in Sacramento, Monterey and Berkeley respectively. The total cost of the seven trips is $9,720.
Conferences are attended by either teachers or administrators throughout the school year. The district has budgeted $270,000 for educational conferences in 2011-12.
Board Vice-President Mary Mangold voted no and asked for local conferences to be separated from long-distance conferences that require either airplane flights or overnight stays.
In light of current budget issues, the district cannot afford costly expenditures, Mangold said.
She added that she would have approved the local conferences if they weren’t tied into the long-distance trips. Mangold also contended that expensive conferences take money away from students.
“When it’s our kids’ dollars that we’re voting on, I’ll always vote for the kids,” she said.
Board President Jo-Ann Purcell disagreed with Mangold’s assessment.
“I don’t think it’s wise to determine the value of a conference by its distance,” Purcell said. “You can’t just decide we won’t go to save money.”
District Superintendent Richard Tauer said that conferences are selected based on a number of factors such as educational value, length of time and cost.
“We do have a screening process and we’re very aware of the financial issues,” he said.
The board, along with Tauer and Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Lynn Baxter, agreed that future conferences would be divided into a local category and a long distance category. Local conferences will not require discussion unless a board member asks for one. Long distance conferences will require discussion before a vote.