At the end of the Daleville City Council’s Aug. 6 meeting, citizen and parent Joel Adams spoke to the council about the ending of the Daleville Parks and Recreation Department’s after school program.
The Parks and Recreation Department has offered an after school program for Daleville students since 2014. This program came after Daleville City Schools offered an after school program.
A 21st Century Grant provided the funding for a before- and after-school program held at Windham Elementary and then-Daleville Middle School for several years.
In October 2007, Daleville City Schools received a $200,000-per-year 21st Century Grant grant for at least three years with the possibility of being extended for another two years, creating the system’s ACTION program.
The program offered art classes, tutoring, physical education classes, English as a Second Language courses and many other activities, according to Daleville Sun-Courier archives.
In 2014, the Daleville Sun-Courier reported that the Daleville Board of Education voted to apply for the grant once again, but the funding was not renewed.
In June, the Daleville Sun-Courier reported Windham Elementary School and the Daleville Parks and Recreation Department were working together to apply for a 21st Century Grant for an after school program.
On Friday, July 26, the Daleville Parks and Recreation Department announced on social media that it would no longer hold Ed-Venture After School or the Ed-Venture Summer Camp Programs for children.
During the council’s work session on Monday, Aug. 5, the council discussed the ending of the after school program.
“If, for some reason, we thought we could keep it, then, you know, we’re nowhere near what everyone else pays around us,” Mayor Jayme Stayton said. “It’s like $30, and everybody else pays $85-$90 a week for after school programs.
“I never want to just shut any kind of program down, but, money-wise, it’s not making it,” he said. “The overtime is ridiculous with our full-time employees. Brook (Beasley) is so stressed out.”
He said there have been parent complaints about too much focus being spent on the department’s after school program.
“We sat down and talked with Brook,” he said. “I don’t know her exact words, what she said that day, but she just said it was a relief.
“We tried it. Marie (Sanders) started it, and it was dumped in Brook’s lap. She did the best she could with it. In the end, we’ve got to focus on what supports the City of Daleville’s path. The rec center is a sports program for softball and baseball, stuff like that.”
City Clerk Angelia Filmore explained, after questions from council member Bobby Hardrick, that the city took over the after school program because the system learned it would not be offering the program last minute.
“The school had a grant for years,” she said. “Then, they didn’t get a grant, so the city decided, for the three years they didn’t get it, we would help out and do something because it happened last minute, there wasn’t any place.”
She said the recent application for the 21st Century Grant had new guidelines that were “difficult” to meet.
Filmore said the city’s school system needed the recreation department to apply for the grant.
During the Aug. 5 meeting, Adams said the after school program was “vital” to the community.
“Offering programs for kids is the foundation for any community to grow,” he said. “The closure of this program is already and will continue to send people away from our community. Children not in our after school program here will not be able to participate in our sports programs, wherever they are in Enterprise, Fort Rucker.”
Adams said he was not placing blame on any specific department or person, but only asks that the city look for options to keep the program.
“I think it may be a combination of problems, but I think this issue needs to be reevaluated and searched for possible solutions,” he said. “Maybe bring in an outsider to look at both sides of the picture, or maybe one of you council members can oversee and look for solutions or some closure.
“This has always been a strong, family community. We always seem to work things out such as this. We’re a community of problem solvers, not quitters. I see no reason we can’t put some effort in to this situation and find a solution for the problem.”
He ended by once again asking the council to look for a way to keep the after school program.
“I feel we owe it to our children and our community to bring this program back,” he said. “Closing would be a major set back to our community and our kids. Please, let’s come together, see what we’ve got to do and see if we can’t bring this program back to our community.”
The council took no action after Adams’ comments.
The next council meeting will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 20, at 5:30 p.m. at city hall.