The city of Olympia is considering lopping $18,000 of its budget by either charging for an after school program they run out of our local middle schools, or by cutting it out completly. This reminded me of a decision the council made earlier this year to cut a down down youth drop in program (saving $30,000).
At the time I wondered that maybe geography killed the downtown program, that because of where the program was situated, that it was doomed to failure. Teen programs in residential neighborhoods survive, while ones in ones in commercial downtowns will fail.
The decision to cut the the middle school based programs seems more budgetary than a concern over their popularity. Kids like them, we just can’t afford them. Which is why is makes sense to charge for them, possibly with some sliding scale fees involved.
Anyway, I’ve known this for awhile, but of the three major cities in Thurston County, Olympia is the only one without a Boys and Girls Club (Tumwater, Lacey and even Rochester have one). Why wouldn’t partnering with a new Boys and Girls Club, instead of leaving it up to the city Parks and Rec. Department, save costs? Plus, this is what the B&G Club do, I think they’d have a good idea of how exactly to do this kind of thing well.
For me, this is as much a conversation about public space as it is about where kids go after school when their parents aren’t home. We should be thinking about how to provide more public space and using our current public space (especially our under used schools) more effectively. I wrote about a similar thought to use our high schools as after hours public libraries here.