F.C. Council Sets Task Force to Seek Plan for Child Development Center

The Falls Church City Council meeting in its work session tonight agreed with the suggestion of Mayor Nader Baroukh to form a small task force with representatives of the stakeholder parties to hammer out an equitable, possibly shared-use resolution to the future of the City-owned Child Development Center property.

The earlier proposal to deny the Easter Seals Foundation a lease renewal on the eight-classroom building, forcing it to move its ages six-months-to-five years day care program, to allow for an expansion of the City schools’ pre-school and family literacy programs has run into stiff opposition, and the City Council determined tonight that it is now looking for some kind of alternative. The task force would include members of the City schools’ community, the City Council and staff and the Easter Seals group.

Councill member Ira Kaylin categorically denied that any “quid pro quo” deal had been hammered out by some Council members to allow for the sale of government-subsidized bonds for an expansion and renovation of Thomas Jefferson School in exchange for no further new school construction for the remainder of the decade. That suggestion, floated by Council member Robin Gardner tonight, would, she surmised, have required the complete takeover of the Child Development Center by the schools.

But School Superintendent Dr. Lois Berlin and Mt. Daniel Elementary Principal Cathy Halayko were present at tonight’s meeting, and Dr. Berllin said that use of Child Development Center facilities could be delayed until the fall of 2012. She also said that the Mt. Daniel programs she hoped would be located there would require five of the eight classrooms at the site, leaving an opening for a shared solution with the Easter Seals program. Mayor Baroukh also suggested that that facility might be expanded in a cost-effective way to help facilitate a shared agreement.

Discussions in the hallways at City Hall among City residents with children who have been placed in the Easter Seals day care program included the fact that it is the only one of its kind in Falls Church that is not connected with churches that have strong evangelical bents. The parents commented that they would have to drive prohibitive distances to put their children into an acceptable program if the Easter Seals option were to be terminated.