School Committee to vote soon on proposal to replace Extended Day with NSBORO-run program (Updated)

Above: This summer, parents successfully “saved” SEDP from being replaced by a for-profit vendor. Now it may be replaced by an in-house program. (SEDP and NSBORO logos)

After reversing course multiple times this year on the process for contracting its extended day program, the NSBORO administration is seeking to form its own program.

On Wednesday night, the Southborough School Committee was scheduled to hear from the administration on the feasibility of the district taking over running of the before and after school “extended day” program.

I was unable to watch, and the video has yet to be posted. Fortunately, the Community Advocate covered the meeting.

According to the CA, Superintendent Gregory Martineau recommended the School Committee approve the district starting its own program next year. Instead, members “expressed interest” in holding a special meeting in coming weeks to vote on the issue.

Background

For over 30 years, the program has been run by Southborough Extended Day Program, a non-profit with a parent-run, volunteer Board of Directors. This past summer, there was a public outcry when the district’s followed the state’s required procurement process and chose a for profit organization to replace SEDP.

Initially, the administration defended that they selected the best bid. Subsequently, officials publicly apologized for not first soliciting community feedback on parents’ priorities for an extended day program. After rebooting the process, they selected SEDP for this school year.

It appears that a month following that announcement, the administration again reversed course. Social media posts from September state that parents were surprised by an email announcing the RFP (Request for Proposals) process was cancelled again and the SEDP contract was only being awarded for 10 months.* In the meantime, the administration would look into the feasibility of running its own program.

At the October School Committee meeting, the administration informed the School Committee of his plans. The intent was to report their decision at this month’s meeting.

This Week’s Developments

According to the CA, Martineau has now recommended the administration form an advisory committee to oversee an in-house program. Otherwise, the district will need to launch a new RFP.

An NSBORO run program would continue to be held at the same schools with the same schedule and fees (unless changed by a future vote of the school committee). It would also continue to be offered over vacations.

The CA’s article covers the administration’s recommendation and reactions. Here are highlights: 

“We pride ourselves on running a fun, warm, and safe environment for these kids, and we do everything we can to maintain that for the community,” SEDP board president Katie Karmelek said at this recent Dec. 8 meeting. . .

“If the recommendation and decision is to bring it in house, we will do what we can to work with the school and to support that decision. But it’s important to know, and I think everybody here needs to know, that the program that we know here today will cease to exist indefinitely,” said Karmelek. . .

Several residents expressed a variety of concerns, ranging from what they called a profit margin to claiming feedback from people who use the program was ignored. . .

Martineau said one of the greatest benefits of absorbing the program was that it would extend its access to district resources, expertise and professional development.” . . .

“As a parent in the district of two children, as a former alumni of the school district myself, and as a former employee of SEDP, the value of the program as it is today is wonderful for the families, and I just would ask the School Committee to really look at what the true difference and benefit of bringing it in house would be,” said Christine Rehlander, who is on SEDP’s board. “I didn’t really see anything tonight that would make me jump out of my chair to make this change.”. . .

“I think we’re — all of us here — have heard those sentiments from families. We’ve heard the phrase ‘If it’s not broken, why fix it?’” [School Committee member Jennifer Primack] said. . .

“Every day parents entrust their children with us, and I think Southborough Public Schools is an exceptional school system,” [Martineau responded]. “[We’re] not perfect, but we do a great job. And I think we can do an exceptional job with the extended day program and truly use our resources to provide students what they need in the program.”

For more meeting highlights, see the full article.

*On social media, parents shared the following message from Superintendent Martineau in mid-September. It had been emailed to some, but not all, Southborough parents:

I want to provide the Southborough school community with an informational update regarding the procurement process for the Before- and After-School Extended Day Program. On August 9, 2021, I communicated with families that the District intended to award the bid to the Southborough Extended Day Program (SEDP). In the interim, the District has reflected on an approach it has considered for a few years – bringing the District’s Before- and After-School Extended Day Program in-house. Many public school districts in Massachusetts do so successfully. As a result, The Public Schools of Southborough has determined that it is in its best interest to cancel the Request for Proposal (RFP) process and reject all proposals for The Public Schools of Southborough’s Before- and After-School Extended Day Program, as the District evaluates the merits of bringing its Before-and After-School Extended Day Program in-house.

I have charged Keith Lavoie, Assistant Superintendent of Operations, with taking the next important step in this process – analyzing the implementation of an in-house program, which would commence at the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year. Mr. Lavoie will make a feasibility determination by Friday, December 3, 2021. If the in-house model is not feasible, the program will go back out to bid.

How does this impact before- and after-school program services for Southborough families for the 2021-2022 school year? The Public Schools of Southborough has issued an interim license agreement to the Southborough Extended Day Program (SEDP), which is the District’s current Before- and After-School Extended Day Program provider. The interim license agreement is for ten months, and SEDP is in place for families for the entire 2021-2022 school year.

I will provide the community with regular updates as the District explores the feasibility of implementing an in-house before- and after-school extended day program for the 2022-2023 school year. I’m available if you have any questions.

Updated (12/13/21 8:57 am): I inserted a line from the CA article that I should have included for more context on the administration’s approach – that absorbing the program would extend its access to district resources, expertise and professional development.

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Diane R.
7 months ago

Is there any chance some more objective information can be provided about SEDP? We’ve resided in Southborough for 11 years and have two children in the public schools. If I recall correctly, we went through SEVERAL SEDP directors after Karen Isaacson, who was wonderful, decided to leave. As a parent of two children who attended the program, I have mixed feelings about it, in part because of the staff turnover, but for other reasons as well.

The tone of some of the objections to a change sound a little like we are trying to get rid of American Apple Pie and I don’t understand that. Did all families really have such a wonderful experience with SEDP that it is irreplaceable and there’s no room for improvement in any domain?

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