Q: I don’t have childcare for my younger child? I have a time conflict picking up my other child from a different school. How have other families dealt with these types of issues?

A: The beauty of being a part of a co-op community is the support families give one another. If a babysitter or family member cannot watch your younger child during your workday, parents will sometimes arrange for a babysitting swap where you watch their child on their workday and they watch your child on your workday. Regarding scheduling conflicts, if it is not feasible for you to leave your workday to pick up your older child, or arrive late, the best options are to have a friend, family member pick up your older child and watch them until you are free. Networking with other co-op families often works if they have siblings attending the same school. The adult is welcome to drop them off at the pre-school where they can all wait in the courtyard until you are finished with your workday requirements. Any adult working for you outside of co-op members must meet immunization requirements and be fingerprinted.

Q: How do school jobs get assigned and what are some examples of school jobs? How much time is required for a school job?

A: There is a school job survey that is completed upon enrollment to the school. The best way to get assigned a job that you want and will be good at is to give detailed and thorough responses to your school job survey. Let us know what you are good at and what you are interested in! There is a job for everyone at CVPNS ranging from gardening and maintenance to field trip planner, buyer, and lots of creative jobs. Some jobs require being at school and others can be done from home. We estimate that each school job requires approximately an hour a week of your time. However, some jobs such as an event planning job will not require weekly work but will be more hours spent closer to the planning and execution of the event. Each job is summarized on the job survey and once assigned a detailed job description will be provided.

Q: I don’t have any teaching or early childhood education experience and I’m nervous being in the classroom.

A: Members participate in an orientation that helps ease some of these emotions. Work cards for each provide you with details of what to do at what time. For many the what if’s surround behavior, or peer interactions is the bump in the road. The CVPNS handbook outline has helpful information on how to deal with common preschool behaviors/scenarios. When it comes time to work in the program you will be well supported by the credentialed teacher, program coordinator, and other parents working that day. We spend time daily talking about parenting tools and tips to support you as various situations may arise in the preschool or your home environment. The teacher is there for you to observe the resolution of situations, provide tips and insights. The Board members, alumni parents, and the teacher, program coordinator are a great resource in navigating your first few weeks as a co-op parent. The teacher is available for help, guidance, and support throughout your workday. In regards to planning science and art projects, the Program Coordinator, if full of ideas and there are books in the office, provides you with a plethora of activities. Pinterest is a great resource to find fun and age-appropriate projects. A little side note about Pinterest, we believe in the process of exploring art and art materials, not the end product. Art activities should have a creative individual spin/bend to them, meaning they do not all look alike. Monthly ideas surrounding art and science projects are also e-mailed out to families.

Q: Are there mandatory fundraising requirements?

A: We are a parent education program through Castro Valley Careen and Adult Education (CVACE). A portion of our costs is offset because of this collaboration. We have one employee, the Teacher, Program Coordinator. Parents give their time and energy in place of paying the high cost of childcare. There is a fundraising obligation to help fund the cost of providing quality materials in a rich stimulating environment and allows us tuition affordable. Each family must participate in the mandatory fundraising events for the year. The mandatory events are announced by the Fundraising Coordinator (Board Member) at the first business and curriculum meeting in September. Each family is required to participate and support the fundraiser event even if they are not attending the actual event. Parents are required to donate to a weekday work basket that will be used as a raffle item. There are no more than 2 -3 mandatory fundraisers in a given school year. There are often other non-mandatory events that offer an additional fun way to socialize and engage with other members of the CVPNS community.

Q: We have a Conditional Use Permit; Parking Rules are IMPORTANT! What are the parking rules?

A: The parking rules are part of the school’s conditional use permit, which allows CVPNS to operate a preschool in a residential area. The conditional use permit specifically states: “[This permit is] subject to a 5-year Planning Staff to verify compliance, and shall remain revocable for cause in accordance with Section 17.54.030 of the Alameda County Zoning Ordinance.” If the planning department receives complaints from our neighbors, CVPNS could lose their permit, resulting in the school being shut down. It is critical that the parking and traffic rules are followed in order to remain in good standing with our neighbors.

Q: What happens if I have a new baby at the start of or during the school year?

A: Parents of new babies get 6 weeks of maternity leave in which they are not required to attend mandatory business and curriculum meetings. They are still required to perform their school job, however, someone will often help them out during this time. You are required to obtain a sub for the workdays you will be missing. Many families do six workday swaps; work for others before the baby is born (or after) and they cover your shifts while you are out. Some individuals opt to have a fingerprinted family member or nanny cover their workdays, or they opt to pay at $30 per day sub fee. After this six-week period, infants can attend the mandatory business and curriculum meetings until they are 6 months of age. Unfortunately, for safety purposes, parents are not allowed to have infants or other siblings attend their workday shift with them

Q: My husband and I work full time. What if we can’t work at the school during the week?

A: You can do it! The co-op is not a drop-off program and participation of each family is required, however, workdays families can have a grandparent, nanny, friend, aunt, uncle, etc.. work your workday. We ask that the same individual work each workday (we understand an occasional illness or emergency may happen). The individual should be able to speak and read enough English to follow directions on work cards and have the ability to follow written or verbal directions in the event of an emergency. Adults working in the classroom must meet immunization requirements and be fingerprinted.