C-R's child care center won't reopen


By Jim Poole

Cobleskill-Richmondville closed its child care center, a financial victim of the coronavirus pandemic.
School board members approved the closing last Monday on the recommendation of Superintendent Carl Mummenthey.
The center, based at Ryder School, is fee-based and self-sustaining. When Governor Cuomo closed schools March 13, “there was a complete loss of revenue. A zero fund balance,” Mr. Mummenthey said.
The center, which served 28 families as of March, operated outside the district’s general fund budget, he added.
Opened at the high school many years ago, the center was originally for children of students. C-R partnered with SUNY Cobleskill’s Early Childhood Division, and students working at the center received college credit, Mr. Mummenthey said.
The center moved to Ryder School about eight years ago and was open to children of faculty, staff and the community, and hours were available before, during and after school.
Always fee-based and on its own budget, the center sometimes was in the black financially, sometimes in the red. In deficit years, Mr. Mummenthey said, the center could draw on its savings from good years to continue.
But more recently, he added, the center has shown deficits as fewer children were there. Also, C-R started Universal Pre-K several years ago. The approximately 80 three- and four-year olds in UPK cut into the center’s potential population.
“Even before COVID, we were looking at the sustainability of the child care center,” Mr. Mummenthey said. “It was vulnerable.”
Also, he added, plans for school in September are uncertain, and the center will not reopen then.
That doesn’t mean the center can be opened in the future, but there are no plans to do so now, Mr. Mummenthey said.
C-R officials “pointed parents” to other sources for child care, giving them all summer to make plans for the fall, Mr. Mummenthey said.
In closing the center, the school board also laid off the director, Renee Swartout, “who did a terrific job,” Mr. Mummenthey said, and the teacher, Heather Flynn.