June 13, 2024

Keeping Media and Government Accountable.

USD 229: free daycare for certified staff, parents on their own

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Parents already upset with USD 229 Blue Valley’s decision to severely limit in-person instruction come fall are fuming over the district’s plan to provide free daycare for certified staff in several elementary schools.

Blue Valley announced last week it will restrict in-person instruction to two days per week for elementary kids and online-only instruction for middle school and high school students.  That’s left parents scrambling to find daycare or having to lose work, on top of worrying about students falling behind.

One parent who emailed the Sentinel requested anonymity, fearing retaliation, says it’s preposterous to claim buildings aren’t safe enough for students to attend, but perfectly fine for staff’s children to go there for taxpayer-funded daycare.

The email states, “To our certified staff with elementary school-aged children, we want to take care of you.  Child care will be provided for all certified Blue Valley staff members who have unresolved child-care needs as a result of the implementation of a Hybrid or Distance Learning Model.  This child-care model will be made available for elementary school-aged children.  There will be NO cost to the employee.  This service is being provided in partnership with the YMCA and Johnson County Community College.

  • Option A: For certified employees who have children enrolled in Blue Valley Schools, the district is in the final stages of identifying 10-15 elementary sites that will host child cared based on space utilization and availability. This child care will be provided in partnership with the YMCA.
  • Option B: For certified employees who have children enrolled in other school districts who are in a remote or hybrid learning model, Blue Valley, along with other Johnson County school districts, is partnering with the YMCA to provide child care for Johnson County school district employees. The location of this care will reside at Johnson County Community College.  This option will be accessible for children who attend schools outside of Blue Valley and are not having in-person learning.

Certified staff includes the superintendent, assistant superintendents, principals, assistant principals, teachers, librarians, counselors, psychologists, nurses, speech and audio pathologists, social workers, and some director-level positions.  The complete list of those and other positions and the amount paid last year is available at KansasOpenGov.org.  As reported earlier, some of the district’s administrators received large pay hikes last year.

The Sentinel asked the district and school members to respond to the following questions:

  1. Please explain how school buildings are not safe for students to attend every day, but safe for certified employees’ children to get free daycare.
  2. What is the estimated cost of providing free daycare for certified staff?
  3. Your decision to deny fulltime in-person instruction places a significant financial burden on some parents, but you are having taxpayers pick up the tab for certified staff who have children in school.  How do you justify that to parents?

Kaci Brutto, Director of Communications, emailed the district’s response:

“We know our students need their Blue Valley teachers to succeed regardless of the learning mode. To ensure that our teachers can be present doing what they do best, Blue Valley is taking care of our staff so they are not forced to be out of the classroom for extended periods of time for unresolved child care issues (Families First Coronavirus Response Act leave).  Having our teachers caring for the social emotional needs of students, engaging with students and teaching the Blue Valley curriculum is what is best for Blue Valley students.”


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