Recreation center sees sign-up surge

Though the school district budget has forced officials to cut a summer school program this year, the city’s recreation department has seen a surge in sign-ups for recreation programs, a sign that the city is helping to pick up the slack.

The Millbrae School District is eyeing budget cuts after voters failed to pass a $78 annual parcel tax last month to help restore

$1.8 million in cuts made over the last three years. The cuts have so far hit music programs, library programs and custodial services in particular, Superintendent Karen Philip said.

Earlier this month, the district board of trustees decided to cut the district’s summer enrichment program, which provided voluntary classes in sign language, drama, music and chess over four weeks. Some 250 children participate in the program annually. After the state handed down new requirements for the district to provide a daily meal for the students, the district decided it could not afford the summer program, according to information from the district.

Resident John Ford, whose child has participated in the sign language and drama programs in the past, saidthat it was unfortunate that the programs had to be cut.

“They never really see it as school. It’s really just something fun for them to do during the summer,” Ford said.

Still, children may be able to make up the loss with the recreation programs being offered at the Millbrae Recreation Center, which is seeing an approximately 10 percent increase this year so far in sign-ups, said Howard Kaplan, recreation services manager.

The surge in sign-ups is mostly coming from seventh-graders, Kaplan said, in activities from music to art.

There may be a further increase roughly two weeks after the summer recreation season starts, when parents and children alike realize that the long summer days are hard to loll away without an activity, Kaplan said.

While the city provides more creative recreational activities, summer school has always been geared more toward learning enrichment, City Manager Ralph Jaeck said. Still, the city may consider hiring teachers part time next summer to augment recreational services with a greater educational component, he said.

“We’re trying to be proactive in providing alternatives to summer school,” Jaeck said. “We’re certainly not providing the exact same program, but we have the same goal.”

tramroop@examiner.com


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