FIRST COME, FIRST SERVED FOR PAL/ASAP NEXT YEAR - The Explorer: Import

FIRST COME, FIRST SERVED FOR PAL/ASAP NEXT YEAR

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Posted: Tuesday, April 30, 2002 11:00 pm | Updated: 7:46 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

Community Extension Programs, Inc., which provides before and after school care and pre-school at several Amphitheater schools, may be accepting less children into its Copper Creek Elementary programs next year.

Zelda Boyd, the director for CEP, said there are some "licensing issues" that CEP has to deal with this year.

Boyd said the amount of space that exists at the school has not changed, but that CEP has to comply with the state formula that dictates how many children there can be per square foot of space. She added that, due to this requirement, CEP has a waiting list at several of its locations. Registration at all of its CEP locations on May 8 will be on a first come, first served basis.

A sign on the door of the CEP rooms at Copper Creek says that registration will begin at 6:30 a.m. May 8.

"We're trying to work it out before people have to register," she said. She refused to comment further.

According to Ellen Fry, a surveyor for the Arizona Department of Health Services childcare licensing division, based on the amount of square feet available and the number of bathrooms, the number of acceptable children for the program is 110. Boyd refused to say how many children are currently in the program or how many would be accepted next year.

However, Fry, who handles several of the CEP sites, said she was not aware of any problems dealing with square footage per student and said she didn't know why the number of students would be changing, as long as CEP wasn't exceeding its capacity by having too many children in the program. Boyd could not be reached for further comment.

Donna Kelley, the principal at Copper Creek, said she didn't know why the amount of children accepted into the program would be changing.

"All I know is that they have a waiting list," Kelley said.

She did say that she had to decrease some of the time the children would be allowed in the school's multi-purpose room, which Fry said could make a difference.

"It might not, but it could," she said.

Fry also said there could be square footage issues that the department might not be aware of.

Fry said CEP would have 30 days to notify ADHS if it was changing the amount of square footage per student, which could explain why there would be nothing in the ADHS file indicating any change.

Todd Jaeger, Amphi's legal counsel, said he had not heard anything about CEP changing the amount of students in the program, but did say that CEP is currently in the process of changing its program rates for next year.

Jaeger said there had been a contract agreed upon between the district and CEP that had been signed off by Superintendent Vicki Balentine, but said CEP needed to make some last-minute changes. Jaeger said the district has yet to hear what the final rates for the program will be.

This is the first year that Community Extension Programs, formerly known as Amphitheater Extension Programs, will have to pay the district rent, as mandated by the state.

Last year, the Arizona Attorney General's office sent a letter to Amphi saying that it was concerned that the district had no written agreement with CEP governing CEP's use of district facilities or any aspect of its dealings with the district. The letter stated that having no contract between the two organizations goes against Arizona law. State law mandates that school districts must charge rent to other companies that wish to use district facilities.

The letter also stated that the district was not using proper procurement code by utilizing CEP's services without having a bidding process open to other organizations able to provide similar services.

After conducting a bidding process, Jaeger said CEP offered the best rate.

Jaeger said he did not know why CEP is raising its rates for next year. Boyd could not be reached for comment.

Chuck Kennedy, whose son has been in the CEP program for four years, said he and his wife opted to have their son in the program because of its convenience.

"The price is right," he said. "Some of the other daycares I know would cost a lot more money."

Kennedy said he was not aware of the waiting list or that registration would be on a first come, first served basis. He also said he had not thought about what to do with Kevin if he was unable to register him in CEP's program.

"I guess we'd really have to scramble around to find some sort of daycare for him," he said. "I would really like to see the program expand and meet the needs of the parents."

Kennedy said putting Kevin in a day care would mean the additional inconvenience of having to worry about transporting him there after school. One of the main reasons Kennedy said he and his wife picked CEP in the first place was because it was at Copper Creek.

Sandy McKee, whose daughter is in the program, also said the on-site convenience was what attracted him and his wife to the program.

"We live right here in the neighborhood," McKee said. "It's just easier to swing by here and pick her up."

McKee was also unaware of the waiting list or the first come, first served registration process.

"Well, that does cause some concern, doesn't it?" he said.

McKee said he and his wife had never discussed other daycare options for their daughter, but should the need arise, they might have to.

"The cost would definitely be different, I'm sure," he said. "And the program here is very good. The people here have been excellent. Plus, all of her friends are here."

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