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$40K in Donations Saves After-School Program in Calif.

From guest blogger Gina Cairney

An after-school program in California's Lodi Unified School District may stay open for at least another year after district officials were able to come up with more than $40,000 in donations, reported the online news site Recordnet.

After months of failed negotiations between city officials and the school district, Art Hand, Lodi Unified Assistant Superintendent of Facilities and Planning, began soliciting donations last week. He quickly collected $40,000, according to the news story, and expressed optimism that private donations could meet the remaining $80,000 to $10,000 that's still needed.

City officials informed parents last week that the program, offered through Lodi Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Services, may have to end because of a $100,000 shortfall, and negotiations to lower the yearly rent had come to a standstill. The after-school program serves 184 students at four locations every day from 2 to 6 p.m.

Jeff Hood, interim Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Services Director, told Recordnet that the city can find a way to make up the remainder of the deficit, even if it means raising the per-student price, which is currently $115 per month.

The Recordnet reports about tensions between the city and the school district, and the resulting anxiety among parents:

One by-product of the tenuous relationship was an anxious group of parents who rely on the afterschool program while they finish their work day. Michael Aberle told the City Council he would have to move to Sacramento where he works if the afterschool program falls through. Kelly Brown said he crunched the numbers, and for an increase of $45 a month for each of the 184 students at the four schools, the budget gap could be bridged.
In the current fiscal environment cuts to after-school programs are being reported in districts across the country , as are the budgets for other extracurricular activities. And, as we reported in this story a couple of months ago, private donations and parent contributions are trying to fill more of those funding gaps.
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