BEND, OR -- Parents of students at Miller, Highland and High Lakes Elementary schools called for the school district to address a myriad of concerns at this week's school board meeting, after the district announced the end of a popular before- and after-school program in the fall.
The school board claims the change is due to the cost of running the Open Gym program. However, a number of parents spoke out at Tuesday's meeting, saying they'd been told the program was self-sustaining. Families pay $75 to $200 per year for kids to participate, but the new program could cost $1,200 to $1,500 annually. Parents received the announcement via email.
Peter Grube was one of the concerned parents. He has put two of his children through the program at Highland Elementary, and thinks the district's claims that it's too expensive don't make sense.
"I find that extremely hard to believe," Grube says. "We tried presenting numbers, we put numbers together. Frankly it felt apparent on our side of the conversation last night that they weren't listing and they didn't care."
The district has not disclosed a breakdown of costs for the program, although parents estimate the 32-hour-a-month program costs significantly less than what the district took in.
The new program, Kids Inc., is provided through the Bend Parks and Recreation Department. It will only provide services for after school; and, unlike Open Gym, will provide structured activities like arts and crafts. The Open Gym allows kids free time and sports equipment.
"We are not asking to be subsidized, we are not asking to be a drain," Grube says. "[The current program] isn't a free program. ... Where is the money going? What really is the financial drain?"