SUSD continues discussion on child care program suspension

File photo of the Saugus Union School District.
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The Saugus Union School District’s governing board plans to continue the discussion on temporarily suspending its Child Development Program during Tuesday’s board meeting.

Board members previously discussed ending the program, which includes the preschool and After School Education and Safety programs, during their Sept. 14 meeting, but decided to push the discussion to the next board meeting. 

Before voting to end the program, the board wanted to ensure reopening updates would be given once the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health allows for a more broad reopening of school campuses. 

“Hopefully, when school returns, we’ll be able to bring the program back since there will be consistency,” said Colleen Hawkins, superintendent of SUSD. “The leadership of the district is committed to this program solely being suspended, and we fully intend to bring it back.”

Four dates have been implemented for district officials to give the board reopening updates beginning in February, and two of the updates will include parental input, according to the meeting’s agenda.

The program has seen a decrease in enrollment due to campus closures prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic. During a usual year, the program would have about 3,500 students enrolled, according to Hawkins. After the mandated school closures, she said the program currently has 207 children enrolled.

“Because of restrictions from (COVID-19), we’ve been struggling to maintain the program,” said Hawkins. “The program is funded through a reserve, which is built on the fees that parents pay, it doesn’t run on any state or federal funds.”

If approved, the program will conclude at the end of December and 57 staff members, including site supervisors and activity leaders, will be laid off.

Hawkins added she fully intends to bring the program back when restrictions ease and students are able to return to in-person instruction.

The SUSD board meeting will be held virtually Oct. 27 at 6:30 p.m. through Zoom and can be viewed by following the instructions on the board’s agenda page

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