|Funding in jeopardy for Community Learning Centers|
|Written by MARIE THOMAS BAIRD Sentinel Education Editor|
|Wednesday, 06 November 2013 10:33|
The Community Learning Centers, which currently offer before-school and after-school activities to elementary students in six county school districts, are in jeopardy as funding is being lost.
Warren Fauver, director of grants and special projects for the Wood County Educational Service Center, which runs the programs, told the ESC board in October that the programs might need to be downsized if the center continues to lose grant funding.
"We're really working at avoiding downsizing but we're facing very serious financial challenges," Fauver stated.
Fifty to 60 percent of funding for the programs comes from sources that are renewable, but the balance comes from other time-limited grants.
The programs provide enrichment and extended learning activities for elementary children - grades kindergarten through sixth. These programs, along with the summer STARS programs, meet the care and supervision needs of parents during out-of-school hours while engaging children in fun learning experiences.
Activities include Challenge Centers where children engage in sequenced, progressive activities designed to build increased understanding, skills, and accomplishments in areas such as art, math and problem solving, reading and writing, science, motor skills, and service projects which lead to character building.
The ESC in the past has received funding from four federal 21st Century grants, but two of those grants have expired and two more are in last year of funding. The grants are for five years.
"The outlook is really getting serious," Fauver said.
The programs will start being financially challenged in the 2014-15 school year.
In addition to the grants that are expiring, funds from a Safe Schools/Healthy Students grant will run out in June 2014.
It costs the ESC about $1.2 million to offer the year-round programs at its nine sites.
Fauver said the program will lose about $283,000 at the end of this school year, but that loss will be partially offset for a new $146,000 21st Century grant.
"Our goal is to keep all of our sites open if at all possible and maintain the quality level of programming we have historically provided," Fauver stated,
"But obviously when you lose that type of funding from your budget, it's difficult."
He is working with United Way to find business partners to help fund some of the sites.
The CLC are offered at Crim and Kenwood elementaries in Bowling Green; and in the Eastwood, Elmwood, Genoa, Northwood, North Baltimore, Rossford and Woodmore school districts.
Also during the meeting, the board approved setting guidelines to appoint two board members to Penta Career Center's governing board by January.
House Bill 59 replaces joint vocational school district board members with representatives from business and industry.
Penta is asking all of the educational entities that now send a representative to its board to approve a Memo of Understanding (MOU) plus a questionnaire to have interested parties fill out.
"As long as we follow this, we should not cause any problem for us or for Penta," said ESC board President Ken Ault.
"Penta is too important to kids to jeopardize this," added board member Tim Smith.
Board member Tim Meyer suggested posting the requirements on the ESC web site.
ESC Superintendent Kyle Kanukel said the board "wants to get the best person who meets the requirements of law."
ESC board member Judith Paredes' term on the Penta board expires this year.
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