When the city of Phoenix put on the chopping block a popular Kyrene School District-based after-school program at the end of June, district parents were more than just a little upset. "We are outraged that the City of Phoenix has made this decision to withdraw the program on such short notice," parent Jessica Ponzio wrote to Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon. "The City's decision to withdraw the PAC program on such short notice will put a huge financial burden on our family and gives us absolutely no time to make alternative choices for the care of our children." The tax-subsidized Phoenix Afterschool Center (PAC), which enrolled 533 students in 2006, a supervised daycare program that cost parents $85 per year and is held on five Ahwatukee Foothills school campuses, was pulled for the 2007-08 school year. The closest alternative, Kyrene Kids Club, can cost as much as $209 per month for five-day enrollment. Ponzio had a right to be upset: the 2007-08 school year started August 2007 and the cancellation of PAC came down in late June 2007. Blame went back and forth between Phoenix and Kyrene. Kyrene said it was just following a state law that said it had to charge the city for facility use, and Phoenix said that no other district interpreted the law that way. Phoenix said it wasn't fair to charge Kyrene parents more than others, and Kyrene countered that Phoenix shouldn't complain since it just passed the nominal costs onto parents anyway. A deal was struck between the warring tax districts, maintaining PAC at a slightly higher cost for parents. Still, it was a tentative agreement expected to last only through the end of the winter semester, and the program is now once again up in the air. Jason Ludwig can be reached at (480) 898-7916 or jludwig@aztrib.com.

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