New beginnings in a smaller home

Above image: The new Child Development Center at Ocean Campus is located behind Rosenberg Library (Photo by John Ortilla/The Guardsman)

 

By David Horowitz

The Child Development and Family Studies program abandoned its rusty Orfalea Family Center walls and temporarily moved behind the Rosenberg Library into two bungalows, where it opened its doors in time for the Fall semester on August 10.

“We were able to continue to provide an uninterrupted service to the parents and the school,” child development and family studies department chair Rosario Villasana said. “It’s a beautiful space—the college feels really cared for and the center feels cared for by the college community.”

Enviroplex Inc. constructed the newfound Ocean Campus Child Development Lab School over the summer for approximately $1.4 million. The school is around half the previous facility’s size, but its teachers have so far been able to work without facing significant problems.

No teachers were cut out of the program, which lost five potential spots for kids because of Community Care Licensing space requirements. Additionally, no children have yet been left out of the program because the center has not reached its full capacity of 18 toddlers and 50 preschoolers.

Children who leave at noon now share classrooms with those who stay until 4 p.m., whereas they had separate classrooms at the previous site. It’s also somewhat harder for parents to get to than the previous site.

Furthermore, the John Adams child development program’s administrative offices recently closed, sending their administrators into the new site, where they share offices with the Ocean administration. Even so, administrators and teachers are both making the most of the reduced space.

“People are closer together and getting work done together,” Villasana said. “It’s kind of allowed us to streamline our administrative processes by having all our administration at the offices. There’s clearer communication.”

Ocean Campus’s Orfalea Family Center had since 2008 served as a nursery for toddlers 18 months to three-years-old, a preschool for children three to five-years-old and a lab for City College students participating in the Child Development and Family Studies program.

That center was deemed unsafe because its outer walls were corroded to the point where panels were falling off. It was allegedly caused by negligence on the part of the Hunt Construction Group.

San Francisco Community College District filed a complaint against Hunt in September 2013, the company denied liability in January 2014 and the trial is ongoing.

“It can take as long as a year or two years,” Villasana said. “Lawsuits can take quite a while, so we don’t know how long it will take.”

Orfalea closed its doors at the end of the Spring 2016 semester. It sits unoccupied, waiting to be fenced off and demolished.

“It was a big loss for the faculty. For everybody, for the teachers, the children—it just had a freer feeling because it was so open and the yard was much, much better than the one we have now,” Villasana said.

The school’s new appearance is incomparably better than its worn out predecessor’s. It also features two playgrounds surrounded by curtained fences that block children from the sights of passersby.

“I think there’s a great sense of relief in terms of being able to offer something that is safer and better looking, and the parents don’t have to worry that it is a danger to the children,” Villasana said.

There are hopes the program will relocate back to its previous area, but it is unknown when that will happen.  

“Once (the lawsuit) gets finalized, (the new site) has to get planned,” Villasana said. “Realistically, it could be 5 years or even longer. So temporary isn’t so temporary.”