Hi all —
I appreciated Joan Shannon’s comments regarding the City Council’s request that the Mayor delay a merger of the City Kids program with the after-school programs administered by the Burlington Schools. I am writing to add some additional information because I think that it is important for people to understand some of the background that led to the proposal.
For the past several years, the School District has been fortunate to receive grant funds that have enabled it to operate after-school enrichment programs. The grants that have supported those programs are ending shortly, but the District does not want to discontinue providing the services. They have been enormously popular, with several thousand children throughout the district taking part in one or more programs each year. In anticipation of the end of the grants, the District has taken steps to obtain licensing for its program so that it can apply for state funds.
As Councilor Shannon points out, both the District and Parks & Rec. would effectively be competing for the same pool of funds for after-school opportunities for children. One of the obvious ways to get more for our state tax dollars (and reduce strain on our already challenged city budget) is to reduce administration costs, which was one of the chief goals of merging the City Kids with the School District’s after-school program. It is also worth reiterating that both the District and Mayor Kiss made it clear that the hours and scope of the City Kids program will not change.
The emotional response to the proposed merger at the last City Council meeting graphically underscores just how important quality and affordable after-school care is to the working families in our city. The School District is absolutely committed to serving the needs of those families, and this proposal was a proactive response by Superintendent Collins and Mayor Kiss to another on-coming fiscal challenge.
Earlier today, Superintendent Collins informed the Board that she and Mayor Kiss are putting together a process which will enable all interested parties to offer their views on the proposal. In the end, I hope that people will agree that the proposed merger will enable the District to offer quality after-school programs for an even wider segment of the community’s children.
When dates and times are announced for public meetings on the proposed merger, I will post them to the neighborhood forums. In the interim, if anyone has any questions, please let me know.
School Board Finance Chair