Budgetary pressures may spell the end of California’s subsidized after-school programs, which serve 859,000 low-income students at 4,500 schools across the state, it was reported Monday.
After-school and summer programs provide homework help, hands-on science and arts projects, field trips, sports, social support and meals. They’re free to parents of low-income students.
The state’s After School Education and Safety program supplies $550 million a year for programs for elementary and middle school students, the Los Angeles Daily News reported. Federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers grants, which the Trump Administration has proposed eliminating, saying they lack strong evidence of meeting goals, kick in an extra $132 million for kindergarten through high school programs. Some programs also get money from foundations, private donors, cities or local school districts.
For several big after-school organizations in Los Angeles, most funding comes from After School Education and Safety programs. State lawmakers haven’t increased ASES funding levels since they created the program in 2006. Since then, costs have risen for organizations as the minimum wage jumped from $6.75 to $10.50 an hour. It’s scheduled to go up again, to $15 an hour, in 2022.
With rising costs and flat financing from the state, after-school programs are sounding the alarm bell. Many face deficits they project will only grow, Eric Gurna, president and CEO of LA’s Best, an after school program housed in the office of Mayor Eric Garcetti, said in remarks reported by the Daily News.
“Whole organizations and the whole system is at risk,” Gurna said. “What will happen if there’s not a fix is that whole programs will close.”
LA’s Best is projecting it will end this fiscal year in June with an $850,000 deficit, Gurna said. Future years will have even bigger shortfalls, according to the organization’s outlook: $1.6 million for the coming fiscal year and $2.3 million for the next.
L.A.’s Best has been drawing on its reserves to cover the shortages in its roughly $32 million budget, but that’s unsustainable, Gurna said.
—City News Service
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