• U.S.

Education: School-at-Work Programs

3 minute read
Marisa Wong

Unlike most other working parents, Esmeralda Mangalino-Pasa doesn’t worry about the logistics of getting her second-grade daughter to and from school. She just brings Kassandra Pasa, 7, to work with her at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach at 7 each morning–just when she’s supposed to start her job. Kassandra, along with 90 other children of employees, is there to attend Mount Sinai’s on-site elementary school, which is run by Dade County Public Schools but uses Mount Sinai’s facilities. At the end of her nursing shift at 3:30 p.m., Mangalino-Pasa simply swings by the K-3 school to pick Kassandra up on the way to her car.

“I drop her off, and I’m at work in five minutes,” says Mangalino-Pasa, an assistant nurse manager at Mount Sinai. “If she were in another school, I’d have to wait around to send her to school at 8:30. Plus, if there’s a school event or if I want to have lunch with her, I can walk right over.”

Mount Sinai is one of 30 corporations, including Target in Minneapolis, Minn., and Agilent Technologies in Santa Rosa, Calif., to have a work-site school on its premises. The medical center provides three portables and maintenance of the space, while Dade County provides the teachers, books and curriculum. In the end, overcrowding is alleviated for the school district, while the company gains lower absenteeism and turnover rates among employees who utilize the school. American Bankers Insurance Group in Miami found that among employee-parents, its school reduced absenteeism 25% and lowered its turnover rate from 16% to 4.5%. Dade County estimates that a work-site school with as few as 70 children can save the district up to $1 million in capital costs.

“Everyone wins,” says Mary Anne Ward, president of Schools at Work, a work-site-school consulting firm. “Companies can set up a school for as little as a few thousand dollars and then use the school as a recruiting and retention tool. Overcrowded school districts don’t have to find extra space for their kids. And parents get to be near their children and be more involved in the school.”

In fact, it’s the extra time Mangalino-Pasa gets with Kassandra that makes going to work each day all the more enjoyable. “We have to drive to and from Mount Sinai, so we get an hour and a half of quality time every day,” says Mangalino-Pasa. “We turn off the radio and talk about her day and practice math and spelling. You can’t exchange that for anything.”

–By Marisa Wong

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