EDMONTON—Edmonton Public Schools administration is in negotiations to rent space in four public schools to EDLEUN, the largest private, for-profit childcare corporation in Canada.Public Interest Alberta will be making a presentation to the school board at 6:00 PM on Wednesday, April 13th calling upon the board of trustees to explore all of the implications of allowing a large publicly-traded childcare corporation into the school system."It is imperative that there be an open and public discussion about this before a contract is signed behind closed doors, because once you allow a corporation in you will not be able to reverse the decision," says Bill Moore-Kilgannon, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta.There are many questions and concerns that should be explored by the school board before a decision is made:
- Should our public education system support private for-profit early childhood education?
- If schools are on public property and paid for by tax dollars should corporations be allowed to use our public facilities to earn a profit? If schools can do this, why does the City of Edmonton not allow community leagues to rent space to corporations to operate out of?
- Should the public school system be seen to be partnering with and giving "educational credibility" to a large corporation that is an advocate of for-profit early childhood education, and which claims to offer junior kindergarten and kindergarten programs without certificated teachers?
- How will this deal affect other childcare operators in the areas around these schools? If the school board simply wants to rent out space to the highest bidder, have other operators been allowed to bid on this contract in an open process?
- Should the school board be forcing out an existing small childcare operation just to get more rent? Will this same approach mean that eventually other not-for-profits or small childcare operators will be forced out so that the school board can help deal with its financial issues on the backs of families with young children?
- Will this result in increased childcare costs to parents in these schools? Will the school board have any control over the costs of childcare within their schools, or will the company set the rates? (To be profitable companies often charge well beyond what many low-income families can afford even with provincial subsidies)
- How will parents and the public see the distinction between the public school system and the role of this corporation in our schools? Will the corporate logo be placed prominently inside and outside of the schools?
- What will be the terms of the contracts that could allow the school board to terminate the contact in the future? For instance, if the quality of the education and care program was not seen to be of high standards, could the school board terminate the contract? Will these contracts with the public school system be made public?
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