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2008 Media Releases


Date:
June 25, 2008
For More Information Contact:
Diane Gonzolas, Citizen Information Center, 441-7831


CHANGES ANNOUNCED FOR COMMUNITY LEARNING CENTERS

Mayor Chris Beutler today announced that all current Community Learning Centers (CLCs) will continue to serve children and families for the upcoming school year. But the Mayor said City budget issues are forcing a change in the role of the City Parks and Recreation Department from being a provider of CLC services to being a funder. The proposed changes are expected to save the City more than $200,000.

Beutler notified the CLC leadership and Lincoln Public Schools Superintendent Susan Gourley last month of the City’s intent. “It was my belief that our community’s non-profits could assume these duties and continue services more efficiently than the City,” he said. “This was in line with one of the key findings of our PRIORITY LINCOLN budget process: people wanted us to find ways to continue services at a lower cost to the City.”

The Mayor thanked the partners who worked with the City on the new CLC service model: Superintendent Gourley; Barry Gourley and the board of Family Service; CLC coordinators Cathie Petsch and Lea Ann Johnson; and Kit Boesch, the Lincoln-Lancaster County Human Services Administrator.

The first five Community Learning Centers in Lincoln opened during the 2000-2001 school year. CLCs are now at 23 school sites, providing a wide variety of programs to meet neighborhood needs. Parks and Recreation has been involved in two ways: as a core provider of services and as a lead agency, coordinating the staff and programs at the site.

After the transition, Parks and Recreation will be the lead agency only at Belmont, Everett and McPhee. The department will continue to provide services at those sites as well as Arnold. Parks and Recreation also will continue before- and after-school programs at three recreation centers – Calvert, Irving and “F” Street. (Click here for a list of proposed changes.)

Beutler said the changes were prompted by several factors:

  • New interpretations of State child care rules increased staffing ratios and snack costs.
  • CLC grants will begin to expire in the 2009-2010 budget year.
  • City personnel costs are considerably higher than those of other non-profit providers.
  • The Parks and Recreation budget has been cuts over the last five years.

Beutler said the changes represent both a success and a failure for the community. “The CLC initiative and the partnerships we have forged are strong,” he said. “Our partners are stepping forward to help us meet Lincoln’s budget shortfall and maintain service for the future of our children. By working together we helped save programs that children, parents and neighborhoods desperately need.”

But Beutler said past City governments have been unwilling to deal with the problems of declining revenues and increased costs. “The continuing structural imbalance in the budget has created a situation in which some decisions can no longer be based on what is best for the future of this community,” he said. “Our choice was the a slow decay of an important City service or a re-organization to stabilize the future of CLCs. I chose to find a way to salvage all that we possibly could for the parents and children of this community.”

Beutler said CLCs will not be able to provide the same level of service under the new model. But he said the partners have done all they could to mitigate the changes so families will notice few changes.


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