Farewell to an important parenting support site 

 I am the department chair for the Child Development and Family Studies Department at City College of San Francisco and wanted to clarify a point referenced in your July 19 article, “CCSF Loses Class After Missing Rent.” We were not asked to vacate the Laurel Hill Clubhouse due to missing rent payments. We had not been assessed rent in many years by the Recreation and Park Department and in fact, I had not received a bill, invoice or request for payment in any form. At one time, we paid a small fee monthly, I believe about $100 per month, but that lease had not been renegotiated for many years. We were in fact utilizing the clubhouse for no fee and were providing free, noncredit parenting courses to parents and caregivers throughout the school year at that site.

The Laurel Hill Clubhouse was slated to be put out to bid last year to raise revenue for the cash-strapped Rec and Park. Due to the unprecedented shortfall in state funding for community colleges, CCSF was not financially able to submit a bid for the property and no mitigating offers or relocation possibilities were presented during the bidding period.  Rec and Park extended the bid process by six months to allow us to complete the spring 2010 semester and then we vacated the building in June as directed.

We have enjoyed a wonderful tenure at the Laurel Hill Clubhouse and our dedicated faculty has served the community with free, noncredit parenting classes for almost four decades. We are grateful to Rec and Park for providing an ideal space for our classes and the Laurel Hill community, neighborhood associations and neighbors for supporting our program for so many years.

When our departure from the clubhouse became evident in June, a number of strategies were discussed that may have allowed us to raise revenue for rent with the assistance of the Laurel Hill Neighborhood Association. However, a potential tenant had already been identified and the tenant selection process was imminent. While I believe that the outreach efforts undertaken by Rec and Park could have been more inclusive of our families and programs last year so that alternative clubhouse locations could have been identified prior to the bid process, our college was not in a position to offer to pay rent for alternative sites.

I was disappointed that in a strange twist of fate, a child care center displaced our parenting classes since there is a need for both services. As chair of the Child Development Department and as a parent in San Francisco, I heartily support the provision of additional licensed child care and additional parent education classes in The City.

Our college students in our credit and noncredit courses are child care teachers, family child care providers, future K-12 teachers, youth workers, caregivers, parents and those interested in entering related fields of study and embarking on careers with children. It was unfortunate that two endeavors that support families and children were vying for the same space when there should be room in the northwestern quadrant of The City for both. I look forward as chair to working with Rec and Park to identify any locations that may be mutually beneficial for shared programming in the future. I also hope some day for the provision of public funds at level that fully prioritizes the educational, recreational and developmental needs of all children and families in San Francisco.

Kathleen White is the chair of the Child Development and Family Studies Department at City College of San Francisco.

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