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North Mercer tenants need more time
We are all happy about winning better, more spacious school facilities for kids, but keep in mind that it was a zero sum game for kids on North Mercer Campus.
Two full-time daycares serve 250 kids year-round, CHILD’s school for special needs serves 20 school districts, and Youth Theatre Northwest serves 2000 kids here and off Island. These programs have been a home away from home for kids for 25-40+ years. Demolition for the new elementary school will mean that their plans are to cut programming at a new MI home, move off the Island, or, hopefully not, cease.
The two daycares supply over half of fulltime daycare on the Island; primarily to families and employees on the Island. Daycare is not a short blip but a critical part of families’ lives and lifestyle choices. With my three kids, we trekked to daycare for over 10 years before my youngest enrolled in kindergarten. For working parents, the need is constant for coverage during non-school hours, year-round.
The North Mercer tenants all know they are not owners. They had breathed a sigh of relief when the 2012 school bond aimed elsewhere than the North Mercer campus. The defeat of that bond meant a new bond positioning a new school on the North Mercer campus, and then the clock really began ticking. The first slash was when MISD decided to spend $1.5 million before the bond vote to accelerate the time schedule in order to get the bond’s pricetag below $100 million – that cut off a year for the North Mercer tenants to scramble. The second slash was last Thursday night when the School Board decided to stick with its rigid timetable despite tenants’ plea for more time to fundraise, get permits, build, move – the same process facing the School District. For programs that promise continuous care to families, a two month gap in service means going out of business.
I would implore the School District to drop rationalizing their timetable and instead, look for creative solutions and workarounds to eke out more time for the North Mercer tenants to fundraise and build new homes to serve children. They appreciate the recommendations and incentives from MISD, but time is what is sorely needed. Then, this can be a win-win for all children.