Parents say they were left in the dark on Cedar Rapids Community School District’s decision to switch childcare providers

Published: Jan. 27, 2022 at 6:16 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -Parents in the Cedar Rapids Community School District have questions, after finding out the school board switched childcare providers without public input. Cedar Rapids Schools has offered before and after school programming, as well as full time summer programming for families through ‘Five Seasons’ for three decades.

“You’ve got to put stuff out into the community so they know what’s going on,” Shari Boeding said, a parent with two children attending Five Seasons programming.

The District is switching from ‘Five Seasons’, which is run by district employees, to ‘Champions’ run by an outside company.

“There was no sign of this coming. And even when you looked at the school board agenda, the way they put this into the agenda the average person would have never known what Champions LLC meant,” Mark McMahon said, a parent with two children in Five Seasons programs.

In a January 10th meeting, the school board approved for ‘Champions’ to take over childcare for the district and to offer summer programming. Parents were notified by email, four days after the change had already been approved.

“I believe these are decisions that need to involve public input,” McMahon said.

“We elect those people to represent us and I feel very under represented on this,” Boeding explained.

The school district says the switch will allow them to expand programming from the 7 locations offered currently, to all 21 elementary schools and 6 middle schools. That’s something they say Five Seasons could not do because of staffing shortages.

“When we started working with them all of them had waiting list of families trying to get into current programs already available,” Nicole Kooiker said, Deputy Superintendent at CRCSD.

The change will come at a higher cost to parents in some cases. A family attending full time in the summer, will go from paying $177-per child a week, to $250-a child per week.

“What about for all of these other families who cannot afford that? Who are accustomed to paying $177 and don’t have any wiggle room in their budget,” McMahon said.

While some will have increased cost, the district will be making money. Champions has committed to paying CRCSD 5% percent of it’s total net revenue each month based on enrollment.

The change also impacts the around 30 staff currently running Five Seasons programming. We asked the district if they could guarantee jobs for those employees.

“I wouldn’t say the word guarantee but I will say this. We need people. We know we have good people on Five Seasons staff,” Kooiker said.

She told us current Five Seasons staff will be given employment opportunities with Champions as well as the District.

While parents are hopeful the transition will be smooth under the new provider, right now they still have more questions than answers.

“We’ve been given nothing about price, we’ve been given nothing about curriculum,” McMahon said.

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