The marital status of Kelly Monk was incorrectly listed yesterday in The Virginia Weekly. Monk is married and the mother of two daughters.
Kelly Monk still remembers the day three years ago when her first-grade daughter was accepted into the Arlington schools' extended day-care program.
"I danced in the streets," said Monk, who now has two daughters in the program.
Last month when Monk, a single, working mother, was told the program was in danger of being eliminated by the state legislature, her reaction was equally emotional.
"I felt like I'd been stabbed in the back," said Monk, whose workday overlaps her children's schoolday by almost two hours at beginning and end. "I wrote them (legislators) a three-page letter and it was still smoking when I sent it."
Monk's daughters are among 1,191 children in the 10-year-old Arlington program. The hours are from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the school year and fees are based on a sliding scale, from $7.40 to $73 a month. Parents who have battle scars from baby-sitter hassles say the hours are ideal and the price is right.
"I moved to this county because of the program," said Eleanor Shanahan, a single parent whose children attend Key Elementary School. "The economics of single parenthood in the Washington area are just incredible. If it weren't for this program, a number of parents would be on welfare."
"We hear no more moving testimony than from parents who use extended day," said Arlington school board member Mary Margaret Whipple. "It just saves their lives."
School administrators in Arlington and Falls Church, which are the only public schools in Virginia operating extended day care programs, have been told they must stop their operations in 16 months. Under a bill passed by the General Assembly last session, the programs then will have to be transferred to another agency or eliminated.
"Private school operators were afraid public schools wanted to get into child care," said Pat Rowland, coordinator of Arlington's extended day program, in explaining opposition to the public school program.
Parents and school officials, however, claim there are no private day care centers in Northern Virginia that are willing to tailor a program for the limited before and after school hours needed by elementary-age students.
Fairfax County and Alexandria have extended day care programs in schools, but in both cases they are managed by outside organizations. Alexandria has 110 children in four schools. The Alexandria YMCA operates the program in three schools and a religious organization, Downtown Ministries, runs the fourth.
Fairfax County's program involves 600 students in 20 schools and is directed by the county division of children. The Fairfax program was much like Arlington's until two years ago when then-Superintendent S. John Davis asked Virginia Attorney General J. Marshall Coleman to rule whether public school systems could legally operate such programs.
"Jack Davis just wanted to get it out of his operating budget," said Ann Broder, chairman of the Arlington school board.
Coleman ruled that school systems did not have any written authority to conduct the before and after school programs. Only an amendment to a bill, introduced by former Fairfax delegate Kenneth Plum, extended the deadline for Arlington and Falls Church until June 1981. As part of that amendment, the state division for children was directed to send a committee to study the day care programs in both areas and make a report to the General Assembly by this June.
The committee was in Northern Virginia last week visiting schools and listening to parents and school administrators who were enthusiastic about their programs and a bit suspicious of the committee.
"It does seem heavily weighted toward the private day care people," said Rowland, who is one of nine committee members appointed by the state superintendent of scools who is, coincidentally, former Fairfax Superintendent S. John Davis.
Doris Doss, regional director for Kinder Care Learning Centers, the largest private day care organization in the United States, is a task force member. Jim Ryan, assistant director of The Friends Association of Children in Richmond is another. Frances Bachelder, representing a Northern Virginia private school association, is a third. Two other committee members work for the state. One supervises kindegartens and the other is chief of the division that licenses private day care centers.
"It's not weighted with any one particular type of group," insisted Ron Thompson, a staff member with the division of children and one of the task force members. He headed the group on the first of a two-day visit to extended day programs in Arlington and Falls Church. The afternoon of his visit he was at Reed Elementary School in Arlington listening to some pointed questions from parents.
"If we're not allowed to have extended day, does that mean we can't have other programs like music and dance classes after school?" asked one mother.
"What other type of activities are you looking at besides extended day?" asked another.
Thompson answered both questions, most questions in fact, with an apologetic, "I don't know."