Phila. and its schools set plan to maintain winter recreation programs

Although the plan may force some students and volunteers to reorganize schedules, Nutter said this is "good news" for students and taxpayers. (DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer)
Although the plan may force some students and volunteers to reorganize schedules, Nutter said this is "good news" for students and taxpayers. (DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer)
Posted: October 25, 2012

The Nutter administration and the Philadelphia School District have worked out a plan to maintain winter recreation programs for 16,000 city children using school gymnasiums, but it will require some programs to change schedules or locations to save on personnel and utility costs.

School Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. estimated the changes would reduce the district's costs by $1.8 million, while meeting the requests of 109 diverse community groups and other organizations, running programs including basketball, indoor soccer, indoor track, drill teams, dance, and musical theater.

The key is to make more efficient use of the School District's larger athletic facilities, which can accommodate multiple programs at the same time, while reducing the use of smaller gyms.

The plan may force some students and volunteers to reorganize their schedules, working on Saturdays instead of weeknights, or vice versa, and in some situations, to move to different schools.

"This is good news for our students, our young people, and certainly the city taxpayers," Nutter said at a news conference Tuesday.

"I recognize as a parent that a change of schedules can be disruptive, whether it's the times or locations," Nutter said. "We tried to be as mindful as possible about what's most important here, that our young people have the opportunity, after school and on the weekends, to be in safe and enjoyable programs, overseen by those who care very passionately about children."

The School District will continue to cover costs at 80 smaller schools, to be open for recreation programming from 6 to 7:30 p.m. each weekday evening. Meanwhile the city will pay the School District $338,000 to cover longer hours at 25 larger schools, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.

The Recreation Department is still working out schedules and locations for groups that applied for gymnasium time to run their programs.

But Nutter said the groups had been informed of the city's overall plans and were generally pleased that they would be able to continue running their programs. Nutter said any coaches with problems should contact the Recreation Department for help.

The Recreation Department runs winter programs for 26,000 children in city-owned gymnasiums. The School District facilities are used to supplement those programs, serving 16,000 children, ranging in age from 5 to 18. The community groups in charge have agreed not to turn away any children who are interested, Nutter said.

In February the city and School District announced a similar deal that provided the district with $189,000 in city dollars to complete last winter's recreation schedule that ended in March.

The new agreement covers Nov. 5 through March 23.


Contact Bob Warner

at 215-854-5885 or warnerb@phillynews.com.

|
|
|
|
|