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Keeping after-school programs alive

A nonprofit has shouldered the operations since last summer. The city is rexamining its budget contraints.

January 19, 2011|By Gretchen Meier, gretchen.meier@latimes.com
(Cheryl A. Guerrero )

The Burbank City Council is reconsidering its decision to cut a $52,000 after-school program as the nonprofit that stepped in to fill the void warned that it may not be able to shoulder the financial burden for much longer.

The Burbank Boys and Girls Club of Burbank and Greater East Valley has operated the Middle School After School Program since August, when city officials axed it because of low attendance and budget constraints.

Burbank Unified School District asked the organization to step in before the start of the school year to offer a drop-in program for teens at John Muir and Jordan middle schools.

"We understand the city's financial situation and they have been and continue to be very supportive of our current programs," the nonprofit's executive director, Shanna Warren, said. "We will do our best to continue to operate the program for as long as we can, but without other sources, it will be difficult to continue."

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Help could come in the form of renewed city assistance after Councilman Dave Golonski asked that his colleagues consider some sort of financial support to the Boys and Girls Club for taking over a program that the city cut.

"I don't think it's necessarily right that we save money by cutting a program and it gets put on the shoulders of one of our nonprofits," Golonski said.

The $75 fee is waived for 60% of students, Warren said.

Around 50 students drop in each day at the two sites — John Muir and Jordan middle schools.

But Golonski's request may encounter some resistance on a council that is already preparing for another round of potentially deep cuts to public services and programs. Based on Gov. Jerry Brown's budget proposal, all city departments were asked to prepare options for 5% cuts.

Other nonprofits are also struggling to meet high demand.

"Do we care more about after-school care, or do we care more about counseling for the kids? Do we care about this, or do we care about that and who should bear the burden of it," said Mayor Anja Reinke. "These are the discussions we are having with all the nonprofits as more and more is getting shoved at them that they really can't handle."

Warren has applied for grants and hopes to get federal Community Development Block Grant funds in order to keep the program alive.

"As much as we understand, though, there is still need for these programs," she said.

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