Excitement over a proposed operating plan for Community Schools and a resurrected After the Bell program for Soldotna’s youth was tempered somewhat Wednesday night by a report of residential vandalism.
City council members expressed their approval of a plan being developed by Parks and Recreation Director Andrew Carmichael and Community Schools Coordinator Carmen Triana as the city takes over management of the education program from the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, but their joy was dampened by Council member Jane Stein’s report of repeated vandalism being directed at one resident’s home.
“Her home has been bombarded night after night with potatoes, with eggs, with juice bottles full and empty ... and toilet paper,” Stein said. “It’s a tragedy.
“We have a beautiful city and it’s sad some people choose to do this,” she said.
Stein said she has met with Soldotna Police Chief John Lucking and Officer Tony Garcia about the vandalism, and suggested it may be time for the city council to enact a curfew for minors.
“Maybe the parents need to be fined when they’re called to come and pick up their ‘tweens’,” she said, referring to the alleged culprits as being between adolescent and teen age.
The Community Schools-After the Bell discussion centered on a work session conducted earlier in the week during which several options were laid out for a city management plan for the program.
City Manager Tom Boedeker said, “We can maintain the status quo or modify the half-time coordinator function to allow working with school activities part-time.”
In the past, Community Schools has been operated with a full-time coordinator and two half-time teen coordinators one at Skyview and one at Soldotna High School.
The part-time coordinators conducted lunchtime open gym programs at the schools.
Carmichael said that by reallocating funding in the program, the city could partially fund the After the Bell program.
A handful of residents spoke in favor of that idea.
Soldotna Elementary School Principal Carolyn Cannava said the program was “very successful and much liked” with adults helping children with homework.
“We had 87 students enrolled and 14 families on a waiting list,” she said. “I wish you would give it funding.”
Tammy Hadley told the council she attended a 21st Century conference in San Diego that advocated after-school programs such as After the Bell.
“It has to be from diversified sources,” Hadley said, explaining the city could receive help in funding After the Bell through other government agencies and through grants.
Linda Hutchings said funding could come in the form of donations and small fees charged for participating in the program.
She pointed out that not only Soldotna children are served by the program.
Carolyn Love said that, in the past, the program served students from Cook Inlet Academy, Kalifornsky Beach Elementary, Redoubt Elementary and Montessori schools.
Carmichael said he had discussions with the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Kenai Peninsula about After the Bell.
“It’s a community issue, not a Parks and Rec issue,” he said.
Council member Lisa Parker made a motion to have the city administration prepare an ordinance or a resolution for funding the Community Schools program with a provision for After the Bell, for part-time coordinators at the two high schools and at Soldotna Middle School on Sundays and during lunch periods.
Soldotna council takes action
In addition to discussing the proposed operating plan for the Community Schools program, the Soldotna City Council took the following action Wednesday:
· Authorized the city manager to purchase roofing membrane materials for the Soldotna Sports Center in the amount of $187,525;
· Standardized membership and terms of office for people serving on the city’s Library, Parks and Rec and Airport commissions;
· Provided a 1 percent wage hike to Soldotna Police to bring their raise in line with that given other union-represented city workers;
· Approved the final design and bidding phase of the Ridgewood Drive-Diane Lane special assessment paving project; and
· Placed a moratorium on construction or placement of free-standing signs in the city while changes in the city’s sign laws are being reviewed by the Planning and Zoning Commission.
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