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St. Michael-Albertville School Board, Daycare Provider to Discuss Just4Kids

In a reprise from an argument Nancy Pelletier brought to the board of education three years ago, the longtime provider and business owner is challenging the school district's child care programs.

Nancy Pelletier, owner of ABC Childcare, will once again challenge the St. Michael-Albertville School District's preschool and pre-kindergartn program, Just4Kids, when she approaches the St. Michael-Albertville School Board at tonight's final meeting of 2012. 

The meeting, set for 7 p.m. at St. Michael-Albertville Middle School West (use Door A), will be held in the board's meeting room. 

Pelletier told the Crow River News last week that she's concerned the Just4Kids program is driving away private business in the community, contributing to her drop in enrollment for 4 and 5-year-old children and probably shutting down Especially for Kids in the Albertville business sector. 

In that vein, she's reprisng her argument that school districts should not be in competition with private sector businesses when it comes to providing childcare. 

In his rebuttal, Dr. James Behle told the newspaper "most" surrounding school districts offer some sort of Pre-K programming, as do private schools such as St. Michael Catholic School  (which opened its preschool in the home of two former small businesses this year) and Salem Lutheran School in Hanover. 

A quick look at the area shows Monticello offers KC Preschool and Buffalo School District offers Little Kid Kare, both organized through community education offices in those districts. 

Behle told the newspaper he believes a drop in the number of 4 and 5-year-old kids, according districtwide census data, could be the culprit for the drop in local preschool enrollments. 

The board rejected Pelletier's request to end its program back in 2009. 

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St. Michael resident December 17, 2012 at 11:04 PM
We love Just 4 kids. It is a wonderful program. We came from a home daycare. I would not send my kids to a center but I love the personal touch Just 4 Kids gives to the students. Just 4 kids is not affecting her enrollment. She takes infants through 5 year olds. To find an infant spot for daycare is very difficult. ABC should be plenty busy with infants.
STMA FAMILY December 18, 2012 at 01:23 AM
My children went to ABC and when they turned 5 they went to J4K. While our family loved ABC the kids just outgrew ABC and the J4K program was just the change they needed! J4K is a great stepping stone to K. They have the kids go through a lunch line with their own tray, they have their own lockers, the kids walk themselves down the hall to use the bathrooms on their own, and on top of all that the kids are taught SO much that they are totally ready for K when they walk in on day one. In my opinion, it's a night and day difference between the kids that enter K from the J4K program and the ones that don't. It would be really sad to see the J4K program shut down but I have a feeling there isn't a need to worry about that!
Marcy Riley December 18, 2012 at 01:24 AM
We love Just For Kids program! I am a school teacher in the MPLS. school district. I believe they have made a huge difference in my child's readiness for Kindergarten. They are very organized, provide great lessons, and lots of love to our kids. My daughters both love going to their after school program as well. ABC's just going to have to lower their prices & become more organized. Also, my school district offers a similar program like Just for kids & before & after school child care.
Rick December 18, 2012 at 02:37 PM
There is no way that public education should be in competition with private business. We could also throw gym memberships at the high school into the mix. Is that affecting any of the surrounding gyms? Is it causing private entrepreneurs to think twice about opening a business in St. Michael or Albertville? I'd think the St. Michael and Albertville City Councils would be taking a hard look at this endeavor to see if and how it is affecting small business in their community. And Behle cites private schools also offering daycare. Maybe I'm a tad confused, but exactly how much state funding do private schools receive vs. public schools? And how much money do private schools receive from levy's? Exactly. Nothing. All public schools are doing when they increase programs as such is justify the need for "more", hence the fleecing that taxpayers got last year over that attrocious levy. Understand one thing folks. Government monopolizing the private sector is not a good thing.
Proud of St Michael Public Schools December 18, 2012 at 03:57 PM
Just to clarify for Rick and all...Just 4 Kids is funded by the parents that pay tuition for their child to attend the program! Parents not only pay a weekly fee but must provide or pay for lunches. If there are businesses in the private sector that want to attract children of that age then they must do what Just 4 Kids has done, prepare kids for Kindergarten in a family/child/community friendly way. It is sad this is even a debate taking up our school board's time. People in the private sector need to take a good look at their business and make it competitve rather than try to shut down the competition. Spend time improving what you do rather than spending time fighting frivolous battle. If you are good at running your business then the competition will be put out of business by the choice of the consumer. Welcome to the United States and a market economy!
THE REST OF THE STORY December 18, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Well Stated!
Trish December 18, 2012 at 09:19 PM
J4K is a wonderful program that prepares kids for K. My son missed the K age cut off by 2 days so we enrolled him immediately. He was not going to sit at daycare with little babies when he should be in school learning. Even though it was J4K, he thought he was in real school. Funny! He stood in line for hot lunch, he had his own locker, his peers were the same age, wonderful lesson plans, he was given chooses, they're well organized, fieldtrips, and he was well prepared for K. Our daughter also attended during the summer months and once again, no complaints. We also paid tuition, which wasn't cheap. ABC needs to keep up with the competition vs trying to shut them down.
JoJo December 22, 2012 at 02:40 AM
Parents like Just4Kids. That's all well and good. The issue isn't whether people like one place or the other. It would be nice if people had a clue what markets/competition (aka Capitalism) meant. There is no level playing field between ABC and Just4Kids, and suggesting ABC somehow be more competitive suggests ignorance. PLEASE try to understand that a center that pays no rent for the space it uses, has no insurance costs, and gets free custodial use is NOT on an even playing field with a center that has all of these costs and has to reflect the higher costs in the fee parents are charged. Given the current economy and struggling families, it makes complete sense that people would move to a center that costs less, even if just a little. This hurts ABC and home daycares in the area. Even though I don't have need for childcare (all are school-aged) I think it's important to point these things out. I'm disappointed to see the school offering a service in direct competition with local private businesses but using taxpayer dollars to ensure the cost is lower than what local businesses can afford to charge. The STMA school board members aren't stupid; they know they are skirting the edge of truth at best in their arguments with Nancy Pelletier. Let's be honest and admit it.
Jessica Kruschke December 31, 2012 at 03:38 AM
Reading the comments here makes me angry. The Just 4 Kids program was exactly what my son needed, I thank God it was available; nothing else like it exists in our community. If you are a private company and are not creative and innovative enough to compete...who's fault is it? Probably their own. The children in this area should not be without the J4K program, it is excellent and produces well educated children who are ready for kindergarten. I think Nancy should be spending her time improving her program for this age group rather than trying to take away something good.
Al Anderson December 31, 2012 at 02:46 PM
Government (no matter what form of it) should never run over private business. Without the support of private business - there would be no school district, no city hall, no county government, no state government and no federal government. While the benefits of the J4Kids program may be laudable -- the better solution would be to take this in house, determine the requirements of the program and competitively bid it out to the private sector. The district isnt playing fair as it gets to use taxpayer financed buildings, staff and resources and private business would have to do it all on it's own You people who are saying private business needs to be competitive need to understand it's not a level playing field.
Mike Schoemer (Editor) December 31, 2012 at 06:19 PM
Not to take a side but to foster conversation: Aren't people who run in-home daycares using the same sort of "resources?" They live there. They get government assistance via food programs (some) and they take in a pretty decent income. Seems somewhat similar on the surface, doesn't it?
JS December 31, 2012 at 06:26 PM
Regarding Mike's last comment - the preschools in the churches also receive "subsidies" from the churches that they "rent" from - they also do not incur the same expenses as if they were a "stand alone" operation.
Al Anderson December 31, 2012 at 06:58 PM
Questions for some of you 1) Is ABC a standalone business that gets special taxpayer funded anything? 2) Does ABC pay federal, state, property taxes? Does the J4Kids program pay federal, state and property taxes? 3) Why isnt the J4Kids program being run (wherever it is run) by a private entity? 4) What is the proper role of government?
Sara December 31, 2012 at 06:59 PM
According to a post by Happee Hollie in another article's comment section on this same topic, she has a wait list of 30 families for her program. Maybe ABC childcare is looking at the wrong program to blame. Or better yet, maybe Hollie could refer some of those families to her fellow private business owners, like ABC, who needs families.
Sara December 31, 2012 at 08:29 PM
According to both programs websites: ABC Childcare costs $170 a week, includes lunch and 10 hours a day of care. Just4kids costs $175 which does not include lunch costs. So I am confused as to how the cost is hurting centers?

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