Phoenix Afterschool Center looks to close due to low participation - Ahwatukee Foothills News: News

Phoenix Afterschool Center looks to close due to low participation

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Posted: Sunday, November 17, 2013 7:45 am | Updated: 9:26 pm, Mon Jan 27, 2014.

The Phoenix Afterschool Center (PAC), located at Kyrene de la Sierra Elementary School, is on the verge of shutting down due to a decrease on enrollment.

The PAC program is offered through the city of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department.

According to emails sent out to families, “due to insufficient enrollment during the PAC Session One the PAC program at Sierra will not be offered for Session Three, unless our minimum enrollment of 40 participants is met and maintained during Session Two.”

Session one’s enrollment accounted for 35 participants and session two declined to 32 participants.

If enrollment of 40 participants is not met by Nov. 22 the PAC program will close.

The PAC program has found some difficulty on keeping the required enrollment at 40 due to the inability of marketing resources through fliers or posters, and solely relying upon word-of-mouth from parents who have their children enrolled in the program.

David Urbinato, public information officer for Phoenix Parks and Recreation, said Sierra will not be the only Kyrene school to see the PAC program go away.

“We’ve operated in at least five Kyrene schools dating back 20 years or so. Along with Sierra, Kyrene de los Lagos Elementary School also is losing their program after this session due to insufficient enrollment. Kyrene Monte Vista Elementary School and Kyrene de las Lomas Elementary School lost the program at the end of last school year for lack of enrollment,” Urbinato said. “At this time, Kyrene de la Esperanza Elementary School is the only remaining Kyrene school that is meeting minimum PAC enrollment figures.”

Parents who have their children enrolled into the PAC program could potentially have to consider enrolling their child into Kyrene’s Kids Club if enrollment is not met by the Nov. 22 deadline.

“While we have several dozen PAC enrollees at Kyrene schools, they all operated as ‘full cost recovery’ sites, so program fees must cover all staff and operational costs. A minimum of 40 participants is required at each site to cover the program costs. For several years, participation numbers at several Kyrene PAC sites have operated near the minimum enrollment level of 40 students, even though there was space for more kids. So while the programs remained popular and attracted several dozen students, they weren’t quite able to meet the minimum cost-recovery enrollment level,” Urbinato continued.

He added that due to children aging out from the program and moving on to middle school, the numbers of replacements have been insignificant to meet the enrollment threshold.

“The program always has depended on word-of-mouth and personal recommendations for promotion. As sites have been threatened by declining enrollment, we have kept in constant contact with parents on the status of the PAC program at their child’s school, but word-of-mouth and personnel recommendations from current participants has not generated enough demand to fill vacancies,” Urbinato said.

Sierra parent Sunnev Chang, with a fourth-grader in the program, feels that losing PAC will affect many parents financially when searching for other after-school programs.

Currently, the cost for a full-year enrollment in the PAC program is $720 per child, compared to the $2,350 for the on-site program offered by the Kyrene School District, Chang said.

As a parent of three daughters, Chang has relied on the PAC program for a place where her children can go to when they’re let out for school.

She currently has one of her daughters enrolled in the program, while her youngest will be entering preschool next year.

Chang offered a solution to representatives of the PAC program, which consisted of parents covering the remaining costs of the eight applicants, which stands at $1,440.

By splitting the remaining cost with the 32 families that are currently in the PAC program, each family would pay an additional $45.

“I’ve talked to many parents that are more than willing to pay that because it still keeps the cost well under half of what the other options are,” Chang said.

Her solution was denied by the city of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department, which viewed it as an unsustainable solution.

For more information on the PAC program, visit www. http://phoenix.gov/parks/teens/pac.html.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or dochoa@ahwatukee.com.

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