CERN Accelerating science

52 years of kindergarten – the structure has proved successful and must not disappear – let’s save our nursery and school together!

Since the beginning of 2016, the Staff Association has been in discussions with the Management to save and sustain our Nursery and School, located on the CERN site in Meyrin.

Where are we now with the discussions and what does the future hold for our Children’s Day-Care Centre and School (EVEE)?


A closer look at the creation of the Kindergarten and its management

A group of parents founded the Kindergarten at CERN in the 1960s, and in 1969, the CERN Staff Association took the structure under its aegis. This change in management resulted in a partnership agreement between CERN and the Staff Association. The agreement defined the rights and duties of both parties with regard to the Staff Association operating a kindergarten on the CERN site. Since then, the Staff Association has been the employer and manager of the structure providing early childhood services.

Development of the structure over time

In 1977, the Kindergarten changed premises and a new agreement was signed between CERN and the Staff Association. This agreement is still in force today.

More recently, the Staff Association, concerned with the wellbeing of children, and to meet the parents’ expectations, has put in place new services in concertation with the CERN Management:

  • in 2009, creation of a canteen to serve approximately 60 children per day;
  • in 2013, creation of a nursery to accommodate children from 4 months to 3 years old (around 35 toddlers);
  • in 2015, creation of a summer camp with the capacity to accommodate 40 children during the month of July.

EVEE facing budgetary difficulties – how is the crisis managed?

The Children’s Day-Care Centre and School (EVEE) structure is facing consecutive budgetary difficulties, in large part due to the establishment of the canteen and the nursery. Indeed, these two services have led to an annual structural deficit which the current financial support of the Organization and the increases in school fees do not suffice to cover.

In 2015, the EVEE Steering Committee endeavoured, in spite of great difficulty, to maximise the revenue and to contain the expenses in order to achieve a balanced budget.

In 2016, informed of the precarious situation of the EVEE structure, the CERN Management decided to put in place a working group to take stock of the situation, to assess the needs of the members of the personnel (MPE and MPA) in terms of early childhood, and to make proposals for a sustainable and viable solution together with the Staff Association.

In 2017, upon the request of the Staff Association, an audit of the accounts was carried out. This audit shows that the management is globally sound and that the optimization measures alone are not sufficient to return to a balanced budget. An adapted subvention from our “State”, CERN, is necessary.

At the same time, CERN has agreed to cover the deficit with extra subventions allowing the Staff Association to finish the year 2016-2017 and to ensure the start of the school year 2017-2018.

How has CERN responded at the end of 2017?

First response: Privatisation of the Nursery and imminent closure of the School

After more than a year of discussions to enable the Management and the Staff Association to find a sustainable and viable solution for the EVEE structure, CERN decides unilaterally to subcontract the operation of the nursery and to remove the school.

Indeed, at the end of November, an Invitation to Tender was sent out to several companies that manage multiple early childhood structures on Swiss territory, in order to take a decision at the beginning of 2018.

It was only on reading this Invitation to Tender, drawn up by the Procurement Services, that the Staff Association learned that it would cease operating the EVEE structure by 31 August 2018 and that the operation of a new structure, no longer including a school, would be entrusted to a contractor as of 1 September 2018.

How would you think the Staff Association welcomed the news after nearly 50 years of partnership with CERN? How could the parents react, and even more so the over 40 employees of the structure?

Following this announcement, and meetings at the highest levels of the Organization, commitments have been made, reassuring, in part, the employees of the structure, the parents and the employer, the Staff Association.

Second response: Outsourcing the Nursery and maintaining the School managed by the Staff Association

On Wednesday, 6 December, at a meeting to which all members of the personnel with children under 4 were invited, the Head of the HR Department, James Purvis, announced the intention of CERN to outsource the nursery and to maintain the School under the management of the Staff Association.

Moreover, the Director for Finance and Human Resources, Martin Steinacher, announced the commitment that there would be no layoffs.

Concerns persist

Despite the latest developments, the Staff Association, the parents and the employees of the EVEE structure remain concerned about the future of the EVEE structure comprising a nursery and a school.

Indeed, during a meeting with the Management, preceding that of 6 December, the Management announced the continuation of the School, contrary to what was originally stated in the Invitation to Tender, but only for a limited duration yet to be determined.

It is not too late to sustain the partnership between CERN and the Staff Association!

The services the Staff Association has provided for many years are above all of a high quality and adapted to an international environment. In the opinion of the parents who currently have children in the structure, as well as those who used to, the service quality is remarkable.

The EVEE is also the only structure within the canton that provides care for children from 4 months to 6 years old. This unique service makes it possible to prepare children, often non-French-speaking, for integration into French or Swiss school.

The Staff Association strives to do the utmost to save the structure as it is today, not only for the sake of the unique educational offer, but also because the School generates a profit, which helps reduce the deficit of the nursery and the canteen.

Furthermore, why does CERN seek to break a long-standing partnership if no substantial savings can be achieved, and the rupture would very likely lead to a decrease in the quality of the educational offer… Not to mention the impact such a decision may have on the employees despite the Directorate’s commitment that there would be no layoffs.

The Staff Association is a responsible and reliable employer that seeks to preserve a unique, high quality educational offer, while committing to provide, with the help of parents and employees, a viable and competitive business model.

SAVE OUR NURSERY AND SCHOOL, this is what the parents, the more than 40 employees of EVEE and the employer, the Staff Association, are calling for.