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Neighbors 'Flabbergasted' at Marin Day School Plan for New Home at Edna Maguire

The proposal is in the preliminary stages, but some feel it's already too far developed.


A proposal to build a permanent home for at the new campus came under fire Wednesday from neighbors who said they weren’t properly notified about the plan.

Steve Rieger, a resident of Lois Court just north of the Edna Maguire campus, said he was alerted just "days before" MDS owner Bright Horizons made a presentation of its schematic design to the board. Rieger's bedroom, he said, overlooks the area where the company is proposing to remodel two existing buildings and expand upon them at the northeast section of the campus, which is in the midst of .

“This is the first I’ve heard of it,” Rieger said at the school board's meeting Wednesday evening.

Tim Ryan, the district's director of maintenance and operations, noted that four local residents attended a Sept. 6 meeting on the plan and that the public can weigh in again at the board's Oct. 3 meeting.

"The schematic design is the starting point, otherwise there is nothing for people to react to," he said. 

The proposal involves remodeling Edna's former kindergarten wing on the old campus, the rest of which has been demolished. Marin Day School has occupied that wing for the past two years, and plans to use the two remodeled buildings for an administration office/reception area and for classrooms, respectively. Bright Horizons also plans to build a third building to host its after school program.

A playground is planned for the east side, and the complex will be separated from the Edna campus by a low fence, with the main entrance through a courtyard.

“The mini-campus, so to speak, will have its own identity,” Andrew Chen of Jacob Wond of Tectonics Architecture told the board.

Dana Rieger brought up concerns about drainage, and the location of the playground, and said neighbors are using words like ‘astonishing’ ‘astounding’ and ‘flabbergasted’ to see the proposal so far developed without resident input.

“It’s frustrating to even have to work off of this,” she said. “It seems like this is already five steps ahead of where it should be.”

Pat Burns, director of client relations at Bright Horizons, said officials did reach out to neighbors and that the plans are purely conceptual.

“We do feel like this is the beginning,” Burns said. “It was never intended for this to be something for final approval.”

Marin Day School is a longtime staple at Edna and throughout the Mill Valley School District, having managed extended day care services in the district since 1983. MDS' Hillside Preschool has operated at Edna for 10 years but has had to reduce its enrollment and expand its waiting list to accommodate growth at Edna, Bright Horizons officials said.

The interim MDS campus is located northeast of the temporary parking lot through the summer of 2013. The proposed MDS mini-campus would allow the company to expand its preschool offering, officials said.

"There’s a real demand for this kind of service in our community,” Burns said, noting that priority is given to Edna families, school district employees and neighbors of the school.

Wednesday’s presentation was Marin Day School’s first time before the school board, and they will be back at least twice with public updates, Superintendent Paul Johnson said.

“I think the point is, this is a beginning step,” he said. “It’s informational.”

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DisgruntledinMill Valley September 14, 2012 at 05:36 PM
I think most people will be surprised to learn that Marin Day is owned by Bright Horizons - which is owned by BAIN CAPITAL -= which of course belongs to MITT Romney - who is currently running for President of the USA, I think most people would be dismayed to learn how little rent Bright Horizons has been paying over the years for their campus - and more dismayed when they learn that the school district has been paying for Marin Day's PG+E bills - which is why Marin Day leaves their windows and doors wide open in the winter months... their PG+E is free and no incentive for them to save resources. If they were paying their own bill - the doors would be shut during the winter months. I have felt the new campus's construction costs would be far cheaper and the layout much better - if the kindergarten wing had been demolished. School districts are only allowed to rent out surplus classroom space in California , Something his fishy in Mill Valley - since we definitely lack surplus classroom space. Seems we are paying more in renting portables for our kids than the school district collects in rent from Marin Day/BAIN CAPITAL. You need to review the leases and see what's going on.
Doug Nelson September 14, 2012 at 09:41 PM
Marin Day has provided essential extended day services for students with working and single parents at all Mill Valley schools. This is an essential service that is not provided by the MV school district. You may want to trivialize this with political BS, but their service is ESSENTIAL to many parents.
Anne Tique September 14, 2012 at 11:10 PM
16 years ago my incoming Kindergartener was in the very first group to occupy the aforementioned "Kindergarten Wing." Also brand new that year, on the opposite side of the campus, was the "5th Grade Wing," which had three (or was it four?) complete classrooms, with "collaboration spaces" between those separate rooms. The grand plan was to give the 5th graders a special portion of the campus to support their particular needs which would help them prepare for the jump to middle school. But with Strawberry Point re-opened, a supposedly district-wide enrollment decrease, that "5th Grade Wing" was leased to and extensively retrofitted by Marin Day after only 6 years of district use. Over the years in this district I've heard a lot about "strategic planning," but am loath to describe where I've seen any.
Anne Tique September 15, 2012 at 12:59 AM
oh, and Marin Day/Bright Horizon's is a for-profit business and has the Mill Valley School District tax payers to thank for subsidizing its enterprise.
Rico September 15, 2012 at 01:12 AM
I am not surprised at all, this is business as usual. But, I would like to add another phrase to the list of what some people wrote, "blind sided" I have been reading about what Bain Capital did in the healthcare industry, now that is astonishing. And to think that some people might actually vote for Romney for our president is astounding. Look out !
DisgruntledinMill Valley September 16, 2012 at 02:44 PM
I tried for years to get my kids into the preschool since we live in Mill Valley - and never was able... but had friends from Novato and Corte Madera that were in the program. It is only now that they want to build the campus that they are pitching it as a program for local families. It should also be noted - public schools are not suppose to be in the business of providing day care for preschoolers. That is not their mandate. I do know that there is not enough aftercare for working families and single moms at Edna Maguire which poses hardships on working families. Wouldn't it make sense to expand EDS to cover these families instead of pre-schoolers? Also, Marin Day makes a fabulous profit on this property. If the school district is so concerned about helping working families and single parents - why can't they let a non profit operate the sight and the fees would go down dramatically .
DisgruntledinMill Valley September 16, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Yes! We are subsidizing their empire. No other aftercare program in Marin has such expensive aftercare as what we pay at EDS operated by Marin Day. Additionally, at Edna Maguire there is not enough aftercare space for kids - so families are turned away and faced to pay extremely high aftercare, or let their kids stay home alone. There is not enough classroom space to accommodate all the children that they need aftercare at Edna Maguire. Why? because Marin Day uses the classroom space for their preschool operations! Also - BAIN Capital pays their teaching staff so little at EDS- that the turnover rates are sky high. Families are required to pay for days when the school is closed on those Mondays - but are the teachers paid? Of course not. T hey know how to squeeze the money out of us - and since this is such an affluent community they get away with it.... if this was Novato we would have far cheaper aftercare. AND, they get free rent for the space - and they don't provide medical benefits to their teachers - so you need to wonder why do their costs escalate yearly??
DisgruntledinMill Valley September 16, 2012 at 02:54 PM
NONE of the teaching staff at EDS receives medical benefits. They also don't get paid when the program is closed. Typical BAIN Capital. Before BAIN Captial bought out Marin Day - the teachers received benefits which included sick days. Bain even took away the teaching staffs sick days.
Beads of Marin September 16, 2012 at 05:29 PM
http://www.baincapitalprivateequity.com/investments/427/Bright_Horizons

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