Garfield County Commissioners Martin questions appropriateness of after-school funding |

Garfield County Commissioners Martin questions appropriateness of after-school funding

John Colson
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – A Carbondale man hoping to win increasing public support to expand an after-school activities program ran into a patch of rough seas this week while talking with the Garfield County commissioners.

The commissioners have all but agreed to provide Steve Kaufman of Access Roaring Fork with funding from the county in 2010.

“It’s just a matter of the commissioners adopting the budget,” said county manager Ed Green. He noted that the budget currently has $94,000 earmarked for Access Roaring Fork programs in 2010, although it will not be formally adopted until Dec. 14, and any part of the budget can be changed until then.

In addition, the county recently agreed to help Kaufman’s program finish out the 2009 budget year with a grant of $25,000, somewhat less than the $32,000 he asked for.

But at the Nov. 16 meeting of the Board of County Commissioners, Kaufman and Commissioner John Martin sparred verbally about how the program should be funded.

“I’m all for the program,” said Martin, adding, “I think it needs to be a community issue, not a … government issue.”

He said the proper financial sponsor of Kaufman’s programs is the school districts in which it operates, or perhaps the county’s Human Services agencies, rather than the county’s general fund or other governmental sources.

To rely on the county to pay these bills, Martin said, “gives the excuse for the educational side not to participate.”

Commissioner Tresi Houpt disagreed with Martin’s argument, and noted that the schools have no money for after-school programming, where the county has some funds for such uses.

Kaufman, whose Access Roaring Fork television production program has been teaching Basalt-area kids about the medium and the technology for years, has recently added after-school activities to the work he does for area teenagers.

So far Kaufman’s program has been limited to the Carbondale schools, although he plans to expand to include other schools in the Roaring Fork School District and in neighboring districts all the way to Parachute. Area law enforcement officials have supported his programs, saying they help keep kids out of trouble in the hours between the end of the school day and when working parents get home.

According to a budget Kaufman submitted to Garfield County, the program expects to have expenses totaling more than $455,000 next year.

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