More?

Many attended last night’s special council meeting regarding the 2007 budget. The outstanding point of this meeting was that both sides of the issue were able to voice opinions. I will not say that is was always calm, when you are passionate about something it is difficult to keep an even tone. However, everyone present walked out knowing that to keep Montrose thriving we need growth of the community!

Discussion was held on how that occurs…through community unity and customer service. Many people brought up how important unity in a small town like Montrose. One friend, writes often in her blog that” it takes a village”. That was discussed too. Why can we come together to help one family but when your neighbor on main street makes a buck, we are envious!!

I will be the first to say that Day Care is not a very profitable business. However, using knowledge from years of experience, the day care is on track to be in the black. By hundreds of dollars?? Probably not, but enough to make do, yes. And what if the Day Care does make money? It will only benefit the city!

More children, more familes, more growth, more Montrose. Who doesn’t want more for our village?

posted by April

Sunday update

A few thoughts and tidbits:

  • I want to clarify some numbers that seem to have confused at least one person (and maybe you, too). In a post a few days ago I compared the $1300+ it would cost our City to hold a special referrendum election to the $1032 it would cost the City to operate the Daycare, on average, for all of 2006. Here’s an explaination of my math: On the “quick facts” page, I shared the most recent numbers from the City (a net cost of $732 as of Sept. 16). Dividing $732 by the 8.5 months of operation so far this year (Jan. 1 – Sept. 16), you get the $86 per month. Now take $86 per month times 12 months for the whole year and–whammo–you get $1032 as the estimated net cost for the City to run the Daycare for 2006. There’s the math, bare naked…
  • I’ve intvited MC Daycare director April Johnston to join the Soundboard as an author, so look for a post or a few in the near future. Welcome to the Soundboard, April. I’m open to adding other authors too, so if you’re interested and have something to say, let me know!
  • The comments so far on Soundboard have been all in favor and support of a City-managed facility (like we have now). If you disagree with me or any of the comments, please speak your piece! This site isn’t intended to be an argument, but it is for healthy debate and learning from both sides of the story. So, comments are open–please post no matter what your opinion is on the issue! Thanks.
  • Friday was a busy day on the Soundboard. As of right now, this blog has enjoyed 424 views since it launched on the night of September 19. Friday was the best day ever with 224 views.

Thanks for reading the Daycare Soundboard…now I need to get ready to watch the Vikings wallup the Bears…[Sunday night update: oops!]

Update on petition

I had the numbers wrong in my last post. 18 valid signatures would be required to trigger a special election. I had said 8 in a post yeterday…sorry!

You can’t learn by talking

If you’re telling me something, you’re not learning anything. Only I am. I’ve spent some time telling on this blog the past few days, so I decided to go do some listening. I wanted to learn the real story behind this petition that we’ve all heard is being circulated. The rumor snowball can really screw with things, so I generally try to ignore it. I want to hear it from the source. Those of you who know me well know that this is not a very easy exercise for me (keeping my trap shut when I know someone is wrong).

So, I stopped in to visit with the local petition circulator herself. The truth is, she hasn’t circulated anything yet. She does have an official petition in hand, and says she will get the signatures by Tuesday’s City Council meeting. Only needs eight 18 signatures to require a referral and City-wide election. The petition will call for a “line item referral” in the City’s 2007 Budget Ordinance. Its intent will be to require the Daycare to break even on an annual basis. This, we could probably live with.

My fear is that the petition driver told me she wants to prevent the City from “writing any checks for the daycare.” This is something totally different than requiring a break even financial statement! I believe she really isn’t trying to close the daycare, but am afraid that will be her unintended result.

I did a lot of listening. I got yelled at a lot too. But I’m a big boy. I didn’t keep my mouth shut the whole time, but might as well have. The truth is, this whole saga isn’t about the daycare at all. It’s about the same thing this debate (and many others) has always been about in our little village. It’s about somebody being pissed at somebody else for something that isn’t directly related to the front-burner issue at all. In communities and families, most of our problems aren’t really about the issue in front of us, the problem is all about the relationship. Same is true here.

We can yell at each other, we can break into rival camps, and/or we can ignore each other and keep telling the “right” side of the story. That would be normal. I hate normal. What if we just sat down and listened to each other for a while? I mean truly listened with an open heart and mind. Listen with the possibility that we might actually learn something new that could, just maybe, change our mind or our impression. That would be very cool, I think. And it could save our community from something that can only be ugly, no matter how the vote turns out. Why is it that the only things that bring this town together on one side are football and tragedies?

Great Math: Spend $1300 to Save $1032

Over $1300. That’s what a referendum election would cost the City of Montrose, according to Carol Flickinger’s (City Finance Officer) estimates. That’s legal fees, ballots, staffing the election, etc.

On the other hand, the tax dollars that would potentially be saved by getting the City out of the Daycare business would be about $1000, based on 2006 year-to-date expenses. And the trend for the past five months has been less and less net spending per month. So the savings could actually turn into zero.

Now, I didn’t graduate from good ‘ol MHS (I’m a Canistota Hawk), but that math doesn’t seem to make much sense to me. Especially when you consider the indirect effect of closing the Community Daycare.

  • 8 jobs: lost.
  • 13 preschoolers: out of luck.
  • 24 families who need daycare service: sorry.
  • $292,077 economic impact: gone.

Where will we, the “daycare families,” enroll our kids? I don’t know. Some parents will probably haul their kids to Humbolt, Hartford, Salem or Sioux Falls (and take their payments with them). Some have told me they would consider moving away from Montrose if we didn’t have daycare for them.

What about the school? Without the daycare on campus, parents don’t get familiar with the school and the education we can provide here. If they are new to Montrose, which many of the daycare families are, they are more likely to enroll their kids at West Central or McCook Central when it’s time for Kindergarten–if that’s where they’ve become used to going for daycare.

Bottom line: It’s a big deal for Montrose, folks.

292,077 Reasons = 1

The impact study is done. You can view the figures behind it by visiting the economic impact page. Based on my analysis, using multipliers figured by a USD/Citibank study on daycares in South Dakota in 2005, our little daycare made an impact on the community of $292,077 in the past 12 months. Not a bad investment of two grand, afterall. The thing is, that nearly 300 thousand dollars is just the tip of the impact the daycare makes on our community…

There are other numbers too: 8 jobs, 24 families served, 13 preschoolers, $2.16 annual cost per resident, etc (see all the numbers). There are the businesses in Montrose that benefit directly at the cash register from the daycare, like the General Store and the Irish Pub.

To me, the most important number of all is 1. As in the only one. No other town has recognized how important quality childcare is to a community quite like us. We’re the first one to get our City Council and our Public School District together to solve a critical problem, and to work together to provide a very important service to the community.

Forget about the numbers for a minute. What we have is a great story to tell! Our community leaders–our City and our School–work together to build a better future for Montrose. The City underwrites the modest expenses (roughly 90 bucks a month), the School provides the campus and great facilities. And both win. The City gets a huge return on that $90 a month investment in the form of a $292,077 economic impact. Jobs are created. Families move in or don’t move away because we have great daycare–right on the school campus so it’s safe and convenient. The school wins because teachers have daycare available right next door. Kindergartners (my Hope is one of ’em) are better prepared, thanks to the preschool. Families from outside Montrose can choose to enroll their kids in daycare and our school at the same spot. And school officials believe kids who attend our daycare are very likely to attend our school–with open enrollment, these are big things to think about.

So, all this great stuff is, well, great. But the biggest thing is still the very fact that our daycare exists the way it does–a cooperative, community-wide effort for a stronger Montrose. It’s not about the numbers or the client-families or the jobs or the City funding–it’s about our community.

Comments are open–post away…

a daycare discussion

Hello. Daycare has long been a spark in Montrose. That spark has flared up more than usual for some reason lately in our little community. A  hand full of residents are rumored to be circulating a petition that would force the City to put the Daycare budget up for public vote. It would seem to me that we don’t need a wasteful expense like an election (City Hall says it would cost at least $1300), and we sure don’t need an issue like this to divide our community.

A good friend of mine once told me that the problem is usually not really about the issue, it’s about the relationship. I’m hoping this blog will help fix whatever relationships are broken over this issue. We don’t need to have a public battle or backdoor our elected representatives on the City Council–we just need to have an open conversation about this. We’ll never agree on everything, but I know we can figure out something most everybody can live with.
I want to be first to admit I have not heard the other side of the story. Since I have two kids at the daycare today, my wife served on the former MCD Board and now sits on the advisory committee, and I lead an effort to restructure the daycare a couple years ago, it;s probably pretty obvious that I think the daycare is a good thing for Montrose and would hate to see it go away. To that end, I’ve put together some facts and figures for your perusing pleasure (just click on the tabs at the top of the page).

I want to know your thoughts. Comments are open–please spark a conversation. If you have ideas for a post or would like to become an author on this blog, just shoot me an email by clicking here.