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Community Commentary -- Maggie O’Rourke

Many, many thanks to you for covering this very important issue (“La

Crescenta school asks for parents’ help,” News-Press, March 19).

The Child Development Program (CDP) at Mountain Avenue has been part

of the school’s network of services for, I am told, more than 20 years.

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My family has been using it since my first child started first grade at

the school in the fall of 1999. Speaking from personal experience, it has

provided my family (a “dual career/dual income” family) with invaluable

peace of mind, knowing that my young sons (first- and third-graders) have

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continuity of excellent care during the day. I can leave them well before

school starts at 8:25 a.m. knowing that they will be well supervised,

intellectually stimulated and kindly nurtured by the specially trained

CDP staff who make sure they report to their classes on time.

After school, they pass from the care of their teachers back to the

CDP. There they enjoy the community of their schoolmates, do their

homework, read, have outdoor play time, engage in special projects and

exercise “free choice” among the many activities offered by the program

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in the CDP area. They are safe, they are stimulated, they are positively

mentored during those times when parents cannot be there because of work

demands and because the end of the school day precedes the end of the

typical work day by many hours.

The children benefit immeasurably from the constancy of remaining on

site, with their schoolmate friends. The school community at large also

benefits from this positive program.

I could go on extolling the merits of the CDP, but hopefully any

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reader understands what I am saying. Working parents, and especially

single parents, daily face the challenge and dilemma of balancing work,

home, family and the economic realities of today’s world. It is

absolutely bewildering to this 50-year-old parent who is a financial

administrator by profession that any elementary school community in the

GUSD would contemplate anything but total support and expansion of

on-site before- and after-school child care services of the caliber of

CDP. The children of our community deserve nothing less.

I firmly believe that where there is a will, there is a way. The will

to sustain the 20-year CDP at Mountain Avenue School continues to be

strong among many, including families who do not use the CDP. We need the

continued support of those in our school community and the commitment of

the decision-makers at GUSD and the school board. GUSD created the

program 20 years ago in response the community’s need and in keeping with

their motto, “Excellence is worth the effort.”

The program operates, I am told, at all the other elementary schools

in the GUSD Crescenta Valley Cluster. I pray that the district will not

abandon its basic tenet regarding excellence and that appropriate

decisions and accommodations will be made to preserve this invaluable

resource in the Mountain Avenue School community.

Please stick with this story! Receiving information and getting

information out to even the immediate school community has been

difficult, at best. The crisis that CDP faces at Mountain Avenue School

this year could be faced by any other elementary school in the CV cluster

next year. I encourage everyone involved to remember that the manner in

which the child-care issue is addressed reflects on this community as a

whole and reveals the level of importance it places on our most valuable

resource: our children.

MAGGIE O’ROURKE

La Crescenta


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