Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Sara O'Neill's letter to PKDW stakeholders

This is the letter Sara O'Neill, my wife, wrote to the stakeholders of my son's preschool, Potrero Kids at Daniel Webster. We're trying to stop the preschool from closing.

To the stakeholders at PKDW: MNC Board members, SF Foundation, LIIF, Eastern Neighborhoods Public Benefit Trust, SFUSD, First Five, Children's Council, DCYF, San Francisco Supervisors and Mayor, Neighbors, Fellow PKDW Parents and Friends

A terrible thing is happening at Potrero Hill Kids at Daniel Webster (PKDW) preschool. I am attaching recent correspondence between Mission Neighborhood Centers (MNC) and Potrero Residents Education Fund (PREFund) so that you can better understand each of their points of view. [I did not include the correspondence in this post - JMO] I will offer my own below as a parent at PKDW.

My son, John Haley, loves his preschool. Our neighborhood, Potrero Hill, is family-friendly and close-knit. He attends preschool with children he has known since infancy. We can barely afford it, but we chose PKDW because we wanted to support this fledgling neighborhood ideal as part of a tremendous community movement launched by PREFund.

As a parent, I have been involved with several committees: Parent/Staff Relations, Finance, Daniel Webster Liaison and the Staff Search Committees. I watched the drama unfold for months and desperately hoped that the tension between MNC and PREFund would not affect the classroom experience for my son. It was clear to everyone that MNC and PREFund could no longer work together. The attached letters will tell you as much.

I'm writing because the conflict has devolved into MNC temporarily closing PKDW's doors, with slightly less than 30 days notice, on April 1st. Many of the stakeholders in PKDW have an intimate understanding of preschool and childcare in San Francisco. For those of you who don't, please allow me to explain that this is a disaster. One family has been "lucky" enough to re-establish their child in the program she was in prior to PKDW. Most families will have no such luck. In fact, most families will have no options. Many application processes for preschool in September are already closed. Almost every preschool in San Francisco has a waitlist. MNC may offer slots in their existing preschools -- and I hope they do -- but the parents that I have talked to (and I've talked to a lot of them in the last 24 hours) have lost faith in MNC.

I'm writing to plead with you, the stakeholders at PKDW, to immediately intervene to prevent the doors from closing. I am confident that the doors can remain open if MNC is willing to work with PKDW families, the stakeholders and, yes, PREFund.

Please come to the meeting this Friday, March 6, 2009, 6pm, at PKDW, Staff Bungalow (lower yard), 465 Missouri St at 20th St in support of the families at PKDW.


Sara O'Neill
Parent of John Haley O'Neill, a Potrero Kid at Daniel Webster

CC: MNC and PREFund