Newark preschool saved after parents’ pleas, promises to help reduce deficit

The Newark-run preschool/childcare program is much loved but fiscally embattled. After parents, including Ohlone College board trustee Richard Watters, gave blistering comments at the June 13 City  Council meeting, Newark leaders reversed course and decided to spare the program:

NEWARK — Heeding the pleas of local parents, city officials have spared a fiscally embattled child care program, but with one condition: They will need help from the impassioned residents who have pledged to lead the program into the black.

Officials announced three weeks ago that the city-run state-licensed program — which has provided child care, preschool instruction, educational field trips and exercise since 1989 — was on the verge of closing because of a hefty operational deficit.

But after a public outcry, Newark officials on Thursday informed the preschool’s six employees that their jobs, and the program, would continue. The announcement came a day after City Manager John Becker and other city officials met with Kristopher Teague, a Newark parent leading the charge to save the program.

“We’ve made the decision to rescind layoff notices for employees, and we’ve mailed a letter to parents advising them that we’ve heard their concerns,” Becker said. “I anguished over this decision for a long time, believe me. But when you have the number of parents and the amount of passion demonstrated for the program, it does give you pause.”

Tri-City parents, including some who packed the City Council chamber last week to protest the planned closure, celebrated the program’s survival.

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Chris DeBenedetti