Have you found yourself saying, “Boy, I wonder why the preschool does that”? I think many of you have. We work hard to accommodate our families’ needs as often as possible, but regulations limit our flexibility. Here are a few common questions and their answers.
It seems like there are many days that FUMP is closed; why?
For the number crunchers out there, our school year is 168 days long each regular school year. We have the traditional holidays the local school districts hold, plus a few more. Another factor to consider is we add extra staff development days, including one day to attend state conference. These are very important, as each teacher must have a minimum of 30 hours per year of continuing education, including CPR/First Aid training, diversity, standard precautions, child abuse and neglect, and child guidance. Whew – aren’t our teachers well-trained? This gives us the optimum training calendar for our talented staff. What about other schools? Most preschools in Austin are set to commence classes after Labor Day and end the year on Memorial Day. We have approximately 2-3 extra weeks built into our school year calendar.
Why doesn’t FUMP follow the AISD and EISD calendars strictly?
When FUMP has parent conference days, we purposefully select days other than AISD. Our teaching assistants provide child care for FUMP enrollees on conference days because we want you to attend. If we held conferences on the same days, we would have many elementary-aged children in our childcare, and this would compromise our ratios, and we have no forms or records for siblings – a BIG licensing no-no. We know this is inconvenient for some folks, but we appreciate your understanding.
I’m a little grossed out by the crickets I see in the building. We are too, but you can’t fight Mother Nature.
Did you know that the grassy areas around the Capitol building used to be spring-fed ponds? (You can still tell from the shape of the lawn that they could hold water.) Our building is built over a small cave that still houses the springs. Unfortunately, we have a higher insect population. We have a pest control service that treats each quarter after children have departed the building. Child care licensing highly regulates the types of treatments we receive, so please know we do our best to strike a balance between managing our insect co-habitators and pest control practices.
Has the preschool ever considered a curbside drop-off?
The decision to have parents escort their children into the building is more of a philosophical one. What parents and teachers love about FUMP is the sense of community that we have here. To have parents remain in their cars would decrease the interaction between teachers and parents about your child’s day. Also, it would reduce family interactions as well. We have had reports from families who have long since graduated from our program that families from FUMP remain friends for years – playdates, vacations, and the like. Children have maintained friendships in elementary, middle, and beyond. Curbside drop-off would take away that essential yet invaluable element of FUMP. So thank you for fighting the traffic (and risking parking citations!) to keep FUMP families connected each day.
Why can’t I bring homemade cupcakes for my child’s birthday?
Boy – that is a tough one for many to swallow. Again, this is based on a childcare licensing requirement. Standard 746.3309 states that food brought from home cannot be shared between children. Further, FUMP’s philosophy centers around modeling appropriate nutritional habits within the preschool day. There are many opportunities outside of the preschool to enjoy holiday/birthday treats. Also, some families do not appreciate the sweets at school-wide functions and want healthier choices or no food. We have opted to have children bring party cups and plates on their special day for the children to enjoy their snacks from home on them. It’s a win-win for parents and childcare licensing.
Why in the world do Before School Care and After School Care run for 45 minutes instead of an hour?
Child care licensing states (Standard 746.1615 to be exact!) that for the first 45 minutes before opening, a program is allowed to amend its ratios and collapse age groups for 45 minutes.
Why is your summer program different (i.e., calendar, prices)?
Yes, summer is very different than the regular school year. After surveying parents, we determined that seven weeks was the most extended summer session we could offer. This gives our teachers a much-needed week of vacation after the school year ends. We convene in mid-June and July and must complete in time for FUMC Vacation Bible School to be held in August. Teachers have two weeks of vacation (but some are preparing classrooms at that time) and one week of staff development for room preparation and staff meetings. As for the costs, we lose about one-third of our students to camps, vacations, etc., each summer. As a result, we used to have our classes only partially full and were not covering our expenses. We had to increase the cost of that program or eliminate it. The high demand for summer care resulted in a fully enrolled, more cost-efficient program.
We hope this gives you a greater understanding of the preschool’s operations and policies.
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First United Methodist Preschool
1201 Lavaca St. | Austin, TX 78701
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