PUSD to reduce child care services at Prospect

PUSD Superintendent Dr. Nate Nelson and Principal Dawn Crater held a meeting for students and their parents, Tuesday, March 12, about prospective changes happening at Prospect and Butterfield schools in the

Teachers won’t come when school moves next fall

More changes are in store for Porterville Unified School District’s Prospect Education Center than their upcoming move across town to the campus of Butterfield Charter High School.

At a meeting for the school’s students and parents held Tuesday evening at Butterfield, PUSD administrators announced that due to budget concerns, current Prospect teachers will not be making the move with the school, and will be moved to other positions at sites around the district.

“Due to some circumstances our district is facing right now we are going to have to be making some cuts, and part of those cuts will affect teaching curriculum. One of them is teachers who are currently working at Prospect Education Center, the plan is that they will not be coming over,” said PEC Principal Dawn Crater after welcoming guests and giving a brief background on the plan for the move. “Our full time teachers working there will be placed in jobs or will have opportunities to take positions elsewhere in the district.  They will all have jobs. It’s just a matter that they work out which school they will be at.”

Crater went on to explain that when PUSD moved Porterville Adult School into the site on Olive Avenue recently vacated by Burton’s Horizon Academy it created a a lot of empty space at the Butterfield site. Since Butterfield and Prospect share resources like a school psychologist and nurse staff, having both schools at the same site will be more efficient.

She explained that all of the programs Prospect students rely on for success like smaller class sizes, scheduling and credit recovery will still be available, but one of its most crucial programs will also be curtailed due to budget circumstances.

“The other thing is our Child Care Center,” announced Crater. “We will have reduced services.”

She explained the worst case scenario would see child care services reduced to a morning or two each week, where students can come in and meet with independent study teachers and take tests, but stressed that nothing is certain yet.

“We will do our best to provide more than that. We need a longer day for students with babies or more needs, two to three days, but I can’t guarantee that,” Crater said.

Another concern with the move is student transportation, and Crater said she is working with the Assistant Superintendent of Business services to come up with solutions.

After announcing the two pieces of bad news, an emotional Crater reassured parents she would do all she could to maintain the positive learning experience for their children.

“I’m looking at all these worried faces, and I just want to do my best to assure you that I’m going to work as hard as I can to provide great services to those students who are returning in the fall,” said Crater.

Crater then opened up the meeting for questions. She spoke with someone in the audience who asked about the Butterfield site, and Crater replied that the charter for Butterfield has been amended for students from eighth through grade 12, so they would be able to provide services for all students in middle school. She said all students would be provided services, even home school students.

One student said she had been going to Prospect since she was pregnant, and her daughter is now in school there, and she asked Crater about what will be provided at Butterfield.

“When it comes to our teen parents we will provide as much child care as possible, the question is how much we can provide, and what we can provide,” said Crater. “We will make sure we will customize for each individual student for emotional reasons.”  

Another student in the audience, Samantha Beltran, said Prospect has a lot of success stories, and she was concerned about not keeping teachers together with students “who’ve come to depend upon them, with whom they’ve had strong trusting relationships and special bonds.”

Crater stressed that the school psychologist, the nurse, and all the other specialized personnel would be in one place, and said that Prospect is an older building. She said the Butterfield building will be remodeled, but having everyone at one location would benefit everyone.

Another staff member said, “It’s like moving home. It weird at first, but you get used to it.”

“We will do the best we can,” Crater said, “But it’s sad.”

PUSD Superintendent gave more details on the evening’s announcements, noting that retirements and a downturn in district enrollment have impacted the cost-cutting decisions.

“A big piece is that Prospect is not as big a facility as Butterfield, and Butterfield is newer, there is a cafeteria and other amenities,” said Nelson.

He added that the Prospect site is a city facility, and it might become a community center. The city also wants to utilize the land behind Prospect Education Center. 

“We want to thank you for showing such passion and compassion for the school,” said Nelson. “We are trying to do the best, and we are grateful for everything the staff have done at Prospect.”

“And we are doing our best to figure out how we can provide the best services for you,” added Crater.

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