PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Some parents are taking to Facebook to express their displeasure about Peoria Public Schools’ before and after school programs, or the lack thereof.
Peoria Public Schools are on a modified calendar and started two weeks earlier than usual, with the first day last week on August 3.
Those first few days were marked by chaos regarding before and after school programs, said PPS Board Member Mike Murphy.
“It was a mess. I only heard about the situation, but apparently Latchkey wasn’t happening,” Murphy said.
Nikki Garcia, parent of a fifth grader at PPS, said the school board repeatedly assured parents “they were working closely with community partners” to ensure before and after school programs, also known as Latchkey programs, were in place by the first day of school.
“Now I don’t have a problem with the schedule being changed, but I knew from the beginning that this was going to be an issue they weren’t going to follow through and they didn’t,” Garcia said.
Facebook user Marie Hartman Lindahl said parents were worried about this kind of situation happening because of the modified calendar.
“It was stated many times in board meetings that they had talked to community members and that care would work. Now that it’s happening, is the child care there?? This shows no. So they are failing on what they said,” wrote Hartman on Facebook.
Garcia said she missed work and lost pay in order to pick up her son from school, because there was nowhere for him to go after school.
“So you say, oh, we’re going to take care of all of this, but they didn’t do anything. We as parents had to go and change our routine and change and make it work once again to accommodate their decision making,” she said.
Garcia went on to question whether the board was even aware of the problem.
“Who knows if they even realized that this was an issue for all of us parents…Do they even know that this fell through the cracks?” said Garcia.
Mary Beth Cunningham, parent of three PPS students, said the onus is on the district, not community partners, to ensure programs were in place by the first day of school.
“It behooves us to be sure things are organized enough to be sure kids aren’t left home alone or parents have to decrease work hours. We are a working class district and are Title I so at least half of the district is below poverty line,” said Cunningham. “These partners’ buy ins were imperative to the success of this schedule. It was up to the district, in my opinion, to be the prime communicator and work with the community partners since the district is who was making such a change.”
Board Member Murphy eventually apologized to inconvenienced families, and said the administration is doing their best to address issues as they navigate the modified calendar.