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Sausalito Marin City School District gets $3.4M for child care, early education

Marin Independent Journal - 10/22/2022

Oct. 23—Up to 200 children in the Sausalito Marin City School District could receive free or low-cost early education and child care through $3.4 million in state contracts.

The district board voted unanimously on Oct. 14 to accept a $995,315 contract to cover 48 slots for pre-kindergarten children who are 3 or 4 years old. The board also unanimously accepted a second contract of $2.4 million to cover 32 slots for children ages 18 months to 3 years and 120 slots for children 4 through 12.

The classes and child care services will be offered on both Sausalito and Marin City campuses of the district's unified school, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Academy.

"Although these funds are restricted, this represents an increase of over 30% in our annual operating budget and the opportunity to establish, low- to no-cost pre-K — 18 months to 4 years old — for every family in our school district," Itoco Garcia, the district superintendent, said in an email.

"In addition, it means we can offer free year-around before and after-school childcare for every child in our school district between the ages of 4 to 12," Garcia added.

He said the latter contract also covers classes and programs over the holidays, mid-winter and spring recesses and summer breaks.

"This is the first time in over a decade that there will be enough childcare slots for the students that need them in our community," Garcia said.

The programs covered over the contracts either are already in place or will be rolled out by July 1 for the next school year, depending on the funding cycles, Garcia said. The state is allowing districts to choose if they wish to take a "start-up" year of planning in order to enable time for hiring of teachers and administrators.

According to a presentation offered at the Sausalito Marin City School District meeting on Oct. 14, the $3.4 million in two new state contracts will cover hiring a full-time program director, seven teachers and a part-time learning specialist, speech and language specialist and parent-staff trainer.

Partners in the contracts, along with the school district, include Marin Horizon School, Saint Andrew Church, Marin Promise Partnership, Community Action Marin, the Marin City Library and Marin County Department of Health and Human Services.

Other agencies that already are working with the school district will continue in their capacities as the various programs expand, Garcia said. They include such agencies as Bridge the Gap College Prep, Play Marin and Bay Area Discovery Museum, he said.

"We are confident that this program will bring much needed infrastructure, staffing and stability to our district, to enrollment and to improve academic and social emotional outcomes for our students for the foreseeable future," Garcia said. "We also believe it is key to maintaining the integration and diversity gained by our successful school unification."

Kate Lane, senior assistant superintendent in the Marin County Office of Education, said the "start-up," or planning year, option is also being offered by the state in regard to extra money given to school districts in the 2021-22 school year to offset learning loss from the pandemic.

Lane said the extra money, known as expanded learning opportunity — or ELO — program funds, are to allow for nine-hour days of educational and child care coverage for all students from kindergarten through sixth grade. That is five or six hours of classes, combined with before- and after-school programming, for all children, statewide.

In the Sausalito Marin City School District, educators will be able to weave together the two new state contracts with the ELO funds to create "a really robust program," Lane said.

"What these contracts do is give them added funds to really make it work," Lane said. She said the state is allowing the current 2022-23 school year to be a "start-up" year for the expanded learning opportunity programs. However, all school districts statewide are expected to have the programs in place by 2023-24.

"At least, they can get something piloted this year," she said.

The ELO money is one of three major state financing initiatives launched in 2021-22, Lane said. The other two are for universal transitional kindergarten — or free public school classes for 4-year-olds who have not reached the 5-year-old cutoff to attend kindergarten — and meals for all students.


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