Jan 14 2017

Recreation Director Explains Elimination of Transportation for Children During the School Year

Transportation for youth recreation programs to end June 1, 2017.  Piedmont Recreation Department will continue to provide Summer transportation services.

~~~~~~~~~~~Letter from Recreation Director Lillevand

By now, many Piedmont residents have heard about my decision to eliminate the school-year transportation services currently provided by Piedmont Recreation Department (PRD).

As a working mom in a household with two full-time working parents, I truly appreciated heartfelt public comments in front of City Council on December 19. I understand the very real hardships associated with child care and the struggle to provide meaningful and enriching opportunities while at work. I understand the convenience, appeal and peace of mind that PRD transportation brings to working parents. I understand the feelings of frustration and anger that City sponsored classes will be more difficult to access without PRD transportation. I understand the shock of a mid school-year announcement and I acknowledge and take full responsibility for poor timing and communication of this decision.

I also understand my responsibility as the Director of Recreation to deliver a vast array of safe and cost effective programs to the Piedmont community. After two years of observation and analysis, I have come to the conclusion that while PRD transportation provides a unique and much appreciated service, PRD is not positioned to offer this service in a safe and efficient manner and therefore it is not in the best interest of the City to continue.

The primary reason for this decision is risk related. We are fully responsible for the safety of children in our care. It is one thing to be caring for them in our facilities and camps. It is another thing altogether to be transporting them throughout Piedmont and surrounding areas. Despite highly committed and attentive staff, the risk of injuring or losing track of a child is significant. Indeed, this past summer we inadvertently left a child at Lake Merritt. Fortunately, that story had a happy ending but these are the things that keep me awake at night.

Secondarily, there are substantial issues with logistics and the staffing effort required to deliver this service. Finally, but not insignificant is the financial deficit that the program incurs. The last two issues could be addressed with added staffing, better technology, and increased fees. The primary issue of risk and liability however is one that cannot be well addressed without a wholesale departmental focus on transportation.

While I understand that parents feel that their children’s opportunities will be limited or lost by the elimination of school-year transportation services, parents do have options.

  •  PRD’s Schoolmates program runs on school days from 7:30 am to 6:00 pm at each of the three elementary school sites with daily enrichment activities integrated in to its play-based program including arts, crafts, cooking, outdoor play and more. In elementary school, my children spent more weekday time with Schoolmates staff than they did with me. I have endless gratitude for the Schoolmates program and the remarkable staff who really knew my children and enriched their lives on a daily basis.
  •  After School Enrichment (ASE) classes sponsored by the school parent organizations are available at each elementary school site. As a side note, PRD’s transportation services began before the existence of parent club after school enrichment offerings when PRD’s programs were the only option for after school enrichment activities.PRD after school enrichment programs as now configured require vehicular transportation. Together with PRD staff, I am and will continue to explore options to retain access to our after school enrichment programs for all families. These efforts include: investigation of transportation alternatives; securing program locations at or very near Wildwood, Beach and Havens; and integrating additional enrichment activities in to Schoolmates.Our goal is to expand, enhance and improve recreation programs in Piedmont for all residents. We are not looking to restrict access or eliminate opportunities. I understand it feels like something valuable is being taken away. I assure you that PRD does and will always strive to serve working families. I believe and ask you to trust that elimination of this resource drain will actually open up possibilities for better services and programs to be delivered.Understanding the impact of this change, we have decided to extend after-school transportation services for five months through the end of the school year to June 1, 2017. PRD will continue to provide Summer transportation services.Thank you for your understanding as we at PRD strive to evolve in ways that maximize efficiency of our limited resources to best serve the wonderful Piedmont Community.Sincerely,

    Sara Lillevand Director of Recreation –         358 Hillside Avenue, Piedmont, California 94611 (510) 420-3070

    December 30, 2016


Leave a Comment