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Whitefish Bay Takes Ownership of Before- and After-School Programs

The Whitefish Bay School District expects to generate as much as $225,000 in annual revenue by ending its 33-year partnership with Milestones Programs for Children.

Starting next school year, Whitefish Bay School District will do away with its 33-year partnership with Milestones Programs for Children and offer its own before- and after-school programming.

Milestones, a nonprofit daycare provider, currently leases space at Cumberland and Richards elementary schools, where it provides before-and after-school programs to young children. Last week, the school district notified Milestones it would not be renewing its annual lease, and would offer its own before- and after-school programs.

The district sent out information about the change to parents last week, and additional information is expected to be shared later this week. Similar to Milestones, the district will start providing child care at 7 a.m. and end at 6 p.m. The school district will also provide activities during winter break, spring break and other non-school days. 

By making before- and after-school programs an in-house operation, the district states it will be able to offer students with homework assistance, use of district resources, a link between school-day and after-school personnel, a district evaluation of the program's effectiveness, a more effective use of school space and other school-community partnerships.

Whitefish Bay Superintendent Mary Gavigan said the expansion into before- and after-school care is consistent with the community education mission of the Recreation Department.

"The Recreation Department has already expanded by offering preschool, and this is another step in that direction," Gavigan said. "It's a decision the district believes has added educational benefits and linkages for families, and we believe it will be provided seamlessly to families that wish to participate."

Carin Kelland, director of the Recreation Department, said the department currently provides programs for late-start school days, as well as camps and enrichment programs in the summer months.

"We look at this new venture as an extension of what we do and a value add to the services we currently offer," Kelland said.

Providing this service through the Recreation Department will bring in an additional $225,000 in annual revenue, based on the district's current enrollment projections.

At the same time, the district would lose roughly $1,500 in monthly rent from Milestones and would have to hire seven additional employees: a lead teacher and an assistant for both Cumberland and Richards, wrap-around K4 teachers and an administrative assistant.

Gavigan said the projected revenues will outweigh the additional staffing costs. In fact, Gavigan anticipates offering the programs at a slightly reduced rate than previously offered by Milestones. 

The district plans to offer the same programs as Milestones, including the fourth-grade kindergarten wraparound program, which offers daylong child care before or after a half-day junior kindergarten class. Unlike Milestones, which transports Cumberland students to Holy Family School for wraparound care, the district will be able to keep the students at the school throughout the full day.

"We are confident that we will be able to serve all the families that are interested," Kelland said. "We have no concerns about space."

David Montemurri, Milestones' executive director, said it came as a surprise to the organization to see its annual lease not renewed after 33 years in Whitefish Bay schools.

Montemurri said the organization will continue to be a part of the Whitefish Bay community by offering before- and after-school programs at Holy Family School and Santa Monica School and offering early childhood programs at Lydell Community Center for children younger than four years old. The organization will continue to offer programs at Atwater, Lake Bluff, St. Roberts, Indian Hills and Parkway elementary schools.

"We're going to do everything we can to continue to serve as many people as possible," Montemurri said. 

WFBParent January 29, 2013 at 11:23 PM
There is something here that is going unsaid: this new program the school district is creating won't be regulated by the state(Milestones is). Thus they can serve any level of care they like including the teacher-student ratio. If the superintendent thinks she can get away with 7-9 teachers and provide the same level of care as Milestones she's got another thing coming. There are easily 9 teachers at Richards alone. What really is being stated here is that the school district went for a money grab($225k in revenue). All at the price of the children currently in the milestones program and those that this new program will be servicing. The student teacher ratio will be worse. The kids currently in milestones have been receiving care from the same teachers over multiple years. There will be a big disruption in continuity of care with the current Milestones kids. And if the district thinks that due to it's rec program it knows something about child care they are sadly mistaken. Their rec program pales in comparison to what Milestones provides. So either the kids will get less care than they get out of Milestones or the district will see less in income if they have to pay out more for teachers/pay. This is really a sad day for the kids in Milestone's care. At best the rec dept knows how to babysit. Is this what you want in order to gain $225k in revenue? Thank you school district of WFB for replacing an outstanding service with an inferior one.
WFBParent January 29, 2013 at 11:42 PM
Also of note: the decision to offer this new program and oust Milestones was made solely by Mary Gavigan and Shaun Yde(the brilliant mind behind this: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/02/business/02global.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0). It did not go before the board. And, you would think after 30 years of service the school district would at least have the common decency to call Milestones ahead of the announcement of this program so they could at least be able to message the situation to the parents and the employees. That did not happen here. This whole deal smells bad. What else is missing here? Is this being contracted out to a third party that we don't know about? Who stands to benefit financially from this move? The school board works for us; there should be transparency here. The district has been choking off the Milestones program for years now by restricting the room space they make available. Cumberland and Richards sits mostly empty before and after school every day yet year after year the district offered the smallest footprint available, even as Milestone's demand grew. I guess they saw the opportunity here and grabbed it. I do think they underestimated the push back they will see from the parents of kids in the Milestones program.
Angela January 30, 2013 at 01:12 AM
Personally, I'm not upset by this decision despite the fact that my two young children have used Milestones for the past two years. While the administrative staff at Milestones has been great and very responsive, and with the exception of a few instructors last year, my family is disappointed by the quality of the Milestones program and have relied less on them as a result. The teachers (for us, anyway) seem to change very regularly and with young kids, continuity is important. Contrary to WFBParent, what I have seen is more akin to babysitting than anything else. I agree that the lack of communication by the Board to Milestones seems unfair and unprofessional given the program's history. However, I have confidence (so far) that Ms. Gavigan and Mr. Yde will do all they can to guarantee that the program operates at the same level of excellence as our schools do (generally) and that our kids are served by trained professionals. While I haven't been overly impressed with some of the Rec Dept. programming, I feel that this is different and was pleased with the announcement. I suppose time will tell.
AWD January 30, 2013 at 01:18 AM
The Milestones providers were not allowed to do homework with the kids; that was pretty strong rule with them, one that I did not care for. Milestones has a great summer program that's hard to top. The homework option is enough for me to support this move.
Concerned January 30, 2013 at 01:45 AM
As a parent in the district, this decision by our elected school board causes a few concerns: 1. Given the stated anticipated staffing levels, it appears they are simply planning a semi-supervised after school free-for-all. 2. The School Board is an elected body yet made this major change without any public input from the very families the decision impacts. Transparency should always be paramount with any elected official and input from those who elected them should be the expected default. This change directly affects the very families the board is elected to serve yet they chose to unilaterally make a change without their constituents input. 3. Since no one, including the School Board, has claimed that Milestones failed our families somehow the only logical assumption for this decision is money. The District, at least as they stated in the letter we received, isn’t planning to offer anything different. In fact, with their stated staffing levels, they are planning to offer an inferior product and simply take the money. 4. The fact that the School Board, in both their letter to families and in this article, has yet to thank Milestones for multiple decades of service to the community is astonishing, utterly ungrateful and embarrassing. For years Milestones has provided a much-needed and vital service to our community’s working families and the school board should have been more grateful.
WFBParent January 30, 2013 at 03:13 AM
Respectfully, Angela, I have zero trust in Mr Yde. In fact, I would love to see his financial numbers on this program. Given his past, see my previous post, the likelihood that this deal is a $200k loss is just as likely as a $200k gain. I was more than a little shocked to see that he still held his job with the district given the extreme financial debacle he put us through with the investment boondoggle. If any of us in the private sector would have failed their stakeholders the way he failed the taxpayers and teachers we not only would no longer have our job we would never find a job in our industry. But, alas, there is no accountability when you are on the taxpayers payroll apparently. Also, see the comment by the superintendent about how she thinks she can staff the program at both schools with 7-9 employees. I would assume that you've noticed that there are at least 7-9 employees of Milestones at EACH school. Either we're looking at less care with this new program or a substantially different financial picture than Mr. Yde is portraying. The school district has never offered full time child care before. Who do you want to trust in this, the organization that has no experience or the one that has 33 years of experience. What do you think is the smart bet?
M Ulander January 30, 2013 at 03:56 AM
I hope the transition goes well for the children and their families. From the way the story is developing, it seems likely that there are going to be some challenges. I think the School District should begin by spending some of their new income on a public relations consultant. And, what happened to transparency? Such a sad story.
WFBParent January 30, 2013 at 04:59 AM
Well said. It's highly likely that this has not been well thought out by the individuals involved in this decision. Perhaps it would have been smart to go to Milestones and see what they could do from a partnership standpoint? And help me out on this one...milestones is a non-profit. They have this down to a science and have it fully staffed for each and every day of the year. Ostensibly, Milestones pours every cent it makes back into the program. How is the school district going to pull this off AND turn a $200k+ profit? Milestones extra overhead is only an extra $1500/mo over the school district. Where's this $200k in profit coming from? Either they haven't done their homework and it won't be nearly as profitable as they think or their plan is to severely understaff the program to make that profit number. I think we're being sold a pile of you know what.
John January 30, 2013 at 06:03 AM
Another terrible decision for the WFB community. Mary and Shawn better start including the community in these decisions (this isn't Stoughton), and live up to their promises on using trained and educated staff, with Milestones teacher child ratios, not just the babysitting programs currently put forth by the Rec Dept. If they are really concerned about dollars vs. quality before/after school care in this two working parent community, perhaps we look at their salaries of $200k and $170k, with benefits.
Michelle Fisher January 30, 2013 at 03:37 PM
As a 20 year veteran and current on-site manager at Milestones, I can assure you that we have always supported a family's need for their child to make homework a part of their Milestones day. We have designated space and supplies in all of our programs for children to independently work on their homework. It is important for children to develop discipline and good study skills at an early age. In recent years, Milestones has offered tutoring programs for families in Milestones and is considering opening this up to all families in the schools we serve.
dills January 30, 2013 at 05:23 PM
The School Board ought to fire Mary Gavigan and save her $100K plus salary. She should be judged on her owngoal of INCREASSING the communication in the school system. What's this out of the blue program? Do these teachers get pension and health insurance benefits? Did the Milestones teachers get similiar benefits? Shawn, was this included in the budgeting?Call the school board president, ask her to send a response to all the parents and residents of Whitefish Bay and get answers?
WFBfamily January 30, 2013 at 06:02 PM
As a parent of a child who attends Milestones I was shocked and angered by this decision, particularly with the lack of transparency and the lack of any opportunity for those who are affected most to provide input. It struck me from the communication that I received that the district's only motive for the change is financial and that the district does not actually intend to concern itself with providing quality care for our children. If it did, it would have solicited input from Milestones, parents, and the community before imposing such a monumental change. Our family has relied on Milestones to provide high quality care since our children were infants and the school aged program continues to offer the same. I was offended by the suggestion in the email I received that the only benefits that the Milestones program offers are "reliability and convenience." Based on my experience with Milestones, the teacher-student ratios are excellent, the curriculum developmentally appropriate and well thought out, and the teachers and administrators tireless in their efforts to provide quality care to our children. It is a shame that those who made this decision did not bother to consider any of this.
WFB taxpayer January 30, 2013 at 08:11 PM
I was at the meeting when this issue was presented to the School Board on 1-23-13. No written information was provided to the School Board or the public regarding the objective, scope, service levels, staffing, timeline or financial impact regarding the proposed change (the Board was provided a 1 page summary of expected financial results after discussion had ended and the Board approved the project). The Board was informed that the District projected a $250,000 annual profit (vs. revenue) from taking over the Milestones program. Carin Keland, head of the Recreation Dept., indicated that they expected to improve upon the current Milestones program and may offer lower prices to parents. During the 5 minutes allotted for public comment, I questioned the staffing levels used by the district ... they seemed low by comparison to current staffing levels provided by Milestones. When I questioned the pricing to parents, Ms. Keland indicated they would charge the same rates as charged by Milestones. Will the District improve upon the Milestones program and make a $250,000 profit by having the Recreation Dept. take over the function? Not if it’s run like the rest of the Recreation Dept. The Recreation Dept. currently loses money … about $1,000 a day… every day. They are also far behind on the implementation of a 48 step Action Plan that was developed as a part of the Recreation Dept.’s Master Plan with a target completion date for all 48 action items of June 30, 2012.
WFBParent January 30, 2013 at 09:15 PM
This just sounds poorly thought out from one end to the other. Why would the board make this decision without giving Milestones the opportunity to state their case? How about the parents? Now the question is do we have any board members with the backbone and brains to put the brakes on this foolish plan? I am sure the Gavin/Yde clownshow will continue to push forward despite all the red flags.
Jeanne January 30, 2013 at 09:36 PM
I am not sure when the Rec Dept thought it should get in the business of providing unregulated and unprofessional pseudo-childcare, but it seems to me that the only thing they are concerned about is their bottom line, not the community. If they were concerned about the community, they would have met with Milestones, learned about their practices, explained that they needed to generate revenue, and requested a partnership. They also would have stopped and reviewed that Milestones -- truly an NFP -- may be crippled by this low blow and that in their haste to find revenue, they may have to find another renter at the Lydell school when the infant and toddler classrooms that they lease to Milestones are closed because the revenue that Milestones lost can't sustain the organization.
WFBParent January 31, 2013 at 02:14 PM
Given the information about what transpired you can see why the district is doing this: to prop up the finances of the rec department. They're losing $1k/day right now. This mythical $250k profit per year would surely go a long way towards closing that hole. Thoughts on their plan: 1) There is no way they will come anywhere close to that profit number. As a govt entity their overhead will be considerably higher than the non-profit Milestones. Further, Milestones is sitting at about a 5kids-Teacher ratio in their classrooms. If the rec department is intending on matching that this means they intend on providing care to 35 kids total for both schools. Back of napkin revenue of $350k. Now let's take out salary and benefits for employees + a couple admins and our personnel expenses alone are close to $300k. That isn't even counting on expenses for supplies(yes, you have to give the kids snacks/milk during the day). At the end of the day there literally is no profit in it. 2) We're willing to bet our rec department, that's performing poorly now(anyone have their kids go through some of their programs? Sure you want these same folks providing daycare for our kids?) and now they will magically turn into this well oiled machine that can run this program well? And let's be frank, daycare service is considerably more complicated than anything else they manage. Help me out here, where is the win here for anyone involved?
WFBParent January 31, 2013 at 02:24 PM
If I was the board, Gavin and Yde I would want to make this go away as quietly and as quickly as possible. This has not been well thought out and the backlash from it if they move forward is likely to be considerable. The likely scenario is that they'll put this program in place. It will fail to meet the profit numbers as well as provide substandard care for the kids. And then in true government fashion, in a couple of years they'll throw up their hands and say "well gosh, we tried our best but <insert excuse list here> we just couldn't make a go of it" and close up the program. And in the meantime, Milestones will be gutted due to a lack of revenue and they won't be able to quickly step in and provide care in the vacuum the district creates. Here's another scenario the district isn't counting on: existing Milestones parents decide it's worth the effort for their kids to walk a couple of blocks each day to Milestones at St.Monicas(no idea what the alternative is for Cumberland). I am strongly considering that option. What do you think those projected profit numbers will look like in that scenario?
M Ulander January 31, 2013 at 02:40 PM
It may not be too late to pressure the board into rescinding their decision. If the parents of Milestones kids show some cohesiveness, the board may reconsider. A petition would be one way to show the parents' discontent with this decision. The decision makers of the school district should already know that sometimes it is what you do, sometimes it is how you do it, and sometimes it is both what you do and how you do it that enoourage people to either support them or go against them. In this case, it is both, what they have done and how they did it.
Greco January 31, 2013 at 05:58 PM
AWD, I can't speak to which site your children were at, but I have had children at four different Milestones sites and never experienced an issue with homework. I would suggest that a program run by the Rec. Dept. may not be quite as good as a well-run, licensed child-care program as far as schoolwork goes.
Greco January 31, 2013 at 06:17 PM
WFB Parent, Cumberland parents are already organizing to walk across the street to Holy Family, where Milestones has had a wonderful program in place for years. This unilateral decision, presented as "exciting news," was sudden and came with no input from the constituency. The district has only provided a page of propaganda that doesn't answer any of the real questions that two-working-parent families will have about this new experiment. Whitefish Bay Schools are harsh enough to families that don't have one stay-at-home parent, constantly reminding us that we're second class citizens by, among other things, scheduling school events during the working day. To be told so blatantly that two-working-parent families are now going to be an exciting new revenue stream for the Whitefish Bay Rec. Department is beyond obnoxious.
WFBParent January 31, 2013 at 08:02 PM
Amen. Those profit projections are even more suspect now. I have spoken to several Richards Milestones families. I have heard no support at all for the district's plan. Most families are either discussing walking to St Monicas or finding alternative care. Sounds more and more like the only potential customers for this new plan are those that cannot make it into Milestones. I think one of the items that made the district think they could pull it off is they saw year in and year out Milestones requesting more space. Milestones at Richards has always been full. But the school has always choked them off and restricted the space available to them. I think the district thought that was a sign they could grab an even bigger piece of the daycare pie. Here's a bold suggestion: if the rec dept is losing money hand over fist why don't you raise the prices of your courses? I would be certainly willing to pay double what I am paying now for what our kids taking from the rec dept. I would much rather do that then have them attempt this hare brained daycare scheme.
Concerned Parent January 31, 2013 at 09:36 PM
As a parent of a child who uses the Milestones program, I am stunned by the lack of communication with the ones who use this. Are there underlying issues at Milestones, I'm sure there is, as there is with the schools. What scares me the most is that they blatantly came out and said that they are not subjected to the same licensure as Milestones. So, what quality of teachers are they going to hired to look after our children....also, just because it say revenue of $224K. This isn't profit, is the school district looking to bail out the rec dept??
Greco January 31, 2013 at 09:54 PM
More information just became available. http://www.wfbschools.com/cms_files/resources/Pre-Enrollment%20Info%202013.pdf The District admits to be only shooting for 18:1 child:teacher ratios, at the same price as Milestones, which offers 5:1. If parents can be made understand this, the District program will fail. We need to speak loudly, above the District bluster about "Linkages between school-day and after school personnel, extended learning opportunities, homework assistance and possible tutoring supplemental instruction (reading and math)" which is easily seen as just that: bluster.
Out With Milestones February 04, 2013 at 01:27 AM
It's truly time for a change. The Milestone personel come and go so frequently that you dont know who the teachers are. And the sad thing is the teachers that should leave are the one that stay. We've also found the Milestone's help have very strange rules...yes as a punishment the children are not alowed to do home work while they are at after school care, good Lord whats wrong with that? As a parent we also have noted that Milestones teachers cannot adjust devlopementaly to all their students age needs. The teachers have been mean to our child to the point our child has been in tears at pick-up...bullied by adult or an a-hole. If the rec dept can demonstrate that they have a solid plan without sacrficing our childrens safety there is nothing to loose. This is long over due and should've been explored years ago.
Greco February 04, 2013 at 03:27 AM
Out - understand my skepticism about whether your experiences actually happened. Whether or not they did, your language and tone are inappropriate for a public forum about kids.
Out With Milestones February 04, 2013 at 06:05 AM
Greco and to all readers, we apologize for the bad choice of language. We are not do gooders and rarely go out of our way about something unless it squarely effects us. What we said is the truth and other parents have acknowledge this with their child making references to the rude / sarcastic / mean remarks to our child from a Milstone teacher. Yes our child has cry after pickup telling us how mean the teacher is. What kind of teacher would tell a child during class free time they couldn't do their home work? As punishment? Clearly we have had good experiences with Milestones, but the service has a major weaknesses. You don't need to like what we have written here that's fine, we have a platform here in which we can express our concerns and feelings. If you question our credibility that's fine we are simple folks. Greco...If its a personal mission for you to save Milestones we hope your not successful...sorry.
M Ulander February 04, 2013 at 06:42 AM
Out w/Milestones did not say what course of action was taken at the time of the incident(s). The parents have some ownership in resolving issues. Complaining after the fact is not usually beneficial. Be careful what you wish for. Just because Milestones is leaving doesn't mean things will improve. It is just as likely, perhaps more likely, that there will be more issues.
Greco February 13, 2013 at 07:54 PM
Find the information here: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=25&ved=0CFAQFjAEOBQ&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wfbschools.com%2Fcms_files%2Fresources%2FBefore%2520and%2520After%2520Registration%2520Information.docx&ei=2u4bUc2NAaa22gWIrYGIAQ&usg=AFQjCNHK3pf1NmbAgr8VZOMLWq-lif26oA&sig2=33-HZgP03JN8rlaGDHJQOA&cad=rja
Jeff Rumage February 15, 2013 at 07:25 PM
I think people should know the user "Greco" is not School Board member Marie Greco. I spoke with her to confirm.

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