Local businesses and other donors have stepped up to provide $45,000 to help rescue after-school programs operated by the city of Lodi that were in danger of shutting down.
The programs serve about 184 children at four elementary schools: Vinewood, Reese, Larson and Lakewood.
The programs were at risk because the city of Lodi needed to close a large budget gap in the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department, said Jeff Hood, interim director.
Art Hand Jr., assistant superintendent of facilities and planning, called up several business partners the district works with on construction projects.
“They stepped up and said they could help. They could make that part of the problem go away,” said Hand.
The donors include Diede Construction, AM Stephens Construction, and Meehleis Modular Buildings of Lodi; and Bockmon & Woody Electric Co., Achritechnica and Quality Sound in Stockton, as well as other businesses from outside the area.
Hood said enough money was raised to cover the facilities costs for the 2012-13 school year. There was talk of charging parents an increased fee to enroll their children, but a survey in February by Parks and Recreation revealed that 53 percent of parents would not agree to an increase from $115 to $150 a month for the programs.
Letters were sent out to parents today with registration packets for next year’s programs.
Parents were pleased to hear the program was reinstated.
“We have been in stress mode trying to figure out what were were going to do,” said Eve Melton, of Lodi.
Her daughter attends Lakewood School and goes to the after-school program each day. Both parents work out of town. They were faced with either transferring their 7-year-old daughter to another school or having her walk home and be alone for an hour and a half each day.
“I’m so relieved the program is back on,” she said. “We were willing to spend more a month. It’s worth it to have my child somewhere safe.”
Next week, district and city officials will meet again to come up with a plan to keep the programs running, but at a lower cost for future years.
Hand said he was grateful to these companies for their donations.
“I am impressed beyond belief in their generosity. Once we explained the problems, they understood the need and stepped up to help us out,” said Hand.
The city subsidized programs at Vinewood, Reese, Lakewood and Larson elementary schools because they do not receive federal grants for their after-school programs. Hood said his department could no longer afford to pay the $50,000 a year in rent to the district to use the four sites. The district has charged this fee to the city since 2010. That fee makes up part of a $100,000 shortfall in the department.
Parents interested in the after-school programs at Vinewood, Reese, Larson and Lakewood elementary schools are invited to a meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Cottage Room at Hutchins Street Square.