Funding proposed for Carbondale after-school programs |

Funding proposed for Carbondale after-school programs

CARBONDALE, Colorado a€” The town of Carbondale will look to a special town fund intended for crime victim assistance to help launch a series of new after-school programs aimed at middle school-aged students.

The Carbondale Town Council on Tuesday voted 7-0 to seek approval from the Victima€™s and Witness Assistance and Law Enforcement (VALE) Board to use $16,000 from the fund to put toward a range of after school programs being organized by Access Roaring Fork director Steve Kaufman.

VALE monies are derived from a 30 percent surcharge on all Carbondale Municipal Court fines, including traffic tickets. The governing code allows the Police Department broad discretion when it comes to use of the funds, Town Manager Tom Baker said.

Baker said he and Police Chief Gene Schilling met and agreed the after school programs met the criteria. And, it could ultimately help divert some youth out of the juvenile justice system, he said.

The ultimate decision will be up to the VALE Board, which is made up of two town council members, the town manager and two citizen representatives.

Kaufman said ita€™s a big step toward the broader goal of bringing after school programming to middle school students throughout the Roaring Fork Valley.

a€œCarbondale is the first to come up with some funding, so ita€™s huge in that regard,a€ he said. a€œIt will help me leverage with Garfield County and the other towns and counties for additional funding.a€

Last spring, Access Roaring Fork broadened its traditional technology-centered programming with a new pilot after-school program at Carbondale Middle School (CMS). Partnering with various nonprofit organizations and community volunteers, a variety of programs such as language, theater, art, athletics, music and homework tutoring were offered.

In Colorado, about 40 percent of middle school students have no after-school supervision, leaving them to occupy themselves for a period of time before a parent or guardian returns home from work. National crime statistics indicate that juvenile crime triples between the hours of 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Carbondale, in fact, experienced an incident earlier this year when several teenagers were involved in a high-profile assault and robbery case in town.

Kaufman points to evidence that such programs work to keep kids busy during those after school hours, and make them less likely to get into trouble.

The pilot program at CMS involved more than 150 students, who stayed after school to participate in a variety of offerings.

This year, CMS physical education teacher Joe Markham has been working with Kaufman and several volunteer coaches to offer a variety of recreational sports activities for sixth through eighth graders.

Use of Carbondalea€™s VALE funds will be for 2009 only. The town council will revisit a longer-term funding option during the 2010 budget process.

Annual cost for the after school program is expected to be between $74,000 and $87,000 per community. Kaufman also intends to approach Basalt and Glenwood Springs for funding in those communities. Hea€™s already met with Garfield County commissioners, and will approach Pitkin and Eagle counties as well.

a€œThis is important, because Carbondale is the first to jump on board,a€ he said. a€œAnd, they fully funded what we need for the rest of this year.a€

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