BOCES Circle of Friends Daycare will stay open after 24 years

By Matt Porter

April 23, 2013 Updated Apr 29, 2013 at 10:33 AM EDT

UPDATED April 26. 2013
Town of Dickinson, NY (WBNG Binghamton) BOCES reversed its decision to close Circle of Friends daycare after parents and teachers ask for other options.

Parents say BOCES reconsidered after parents and teachers discussed alternative solutions to save the daycare center.

ORIGINAL STORY: For four years, single mother Dawn Shafer has been bringing her daughter Lillianna to the Circle of Friends Daycare at Broome-Tioga BOCES.

Last week, she was handed the same letter received by other parents and teachers that the daycare would close at the end of June.

"I'm still in shock, we got the news last Monday," Shafer said. "Seven in the morning when we were dropping our children off, we got a letter. The same letter the teacher's got. Stating that on July 1 the center is going to close."

BOCES daycare program started as a teaching lab 24 years ago.

Parents say the center provides top daycare for an affordable price.

Just $170 a week for toddlers.

Parents said they never knew the center was in fiscal trouble.

"At no time did they ever come to us and say we're going to need to increase your tuition," Shafer said. "We're going to need to cut back on field trips, or anything like that."

But the daycare was in trouble, according to District Superintendent Dr. Allen Buyck.

He said the program has been in the red for four years, including this year, when the deficit reached nearly $278,000.

"This is an unfortunate decision that we needed to make and had to make to protect our core programs for our students that we serve in our region here," Buyck said.

Tearful parents pleaded with Buyck Tuesday to reverse the decision.

However, Buyck said public education contracts put the daycare's cost at a premium.

"The labor expense associated is a little bit different than it would be in a part-time daycare or a private daycare," he said.

BOCES reported that nearly two-thirds of the center's $500,000 budget is in salaries and benefits.

Of the 36 children who use the daycare center, 31 are related to BOCES employees.

Expansion was considered, but Buyck said it wouldn't solve the deficit problem.

"The incremental cost in labor that we would have to add to cover that new child would still be greater," he said.

BOCES said it would have to increase rates by more than $200 per child to make the program self-sustaining again.

Shafer said the cost of losing quality daycare goes beyond dollars and cents for parents.

"It's priceless," she said, "I mean, I know that when I put my daughter there, she's in good hands."

The center employs 15 people full-time including aids and teaching assistants.

BOCES said all 15 will have the chance to apply for other similar open positions in the BOCES system.