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Garfield County commissioners need more info for after-school funding request

John Colson
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – An ambitious plan to keep kids out of trouble in the after-school hours did not quite come up to par with the Garfield County commissioners this week, as far as providing money to help the program finish out the year.

But the county commissioners told Steve Kaufman, director of the Basalt-based Access Roaring Fork television classes for kids, that they want more information before deciding about Kaufman’s request for $32,000 to enable him to get to work in the schools of Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs.

Kaufman and a small number of supporters have been working to come up with after-school activities, academic as well as recreational, for middle-schoolers who currently have little to do once school lets out in the afternoon. It is separate from the Access Roaring Fork program, but grew out of his belief that kids need more to do with their time when they are not in school.



Citing statistics and reports from across the U.S., Kaufman described a growing nationwide interest in after-school time as a critical part of any effort aimed at keeping kids out of trouble, away from gangs, drugs, sex and violence, and interested in school.

His programs, which were well received in the Carbondale Middle School last year, won the support of the Carbondale Board of Trustees in the form of a $16,000 grant awarded earlier this month.



Kaufman also has talked with school officials and town officials in Basalt and Glenwood Springs, where he has been encouraged but not awarded any money as of yet. He ultimately hopes to expand the program to the schools of New Castle, Silt, Rifle and Parachute.

The activities, he told the county commissioners, include everything from art, music, technology and physical fitness to “activities that appeal to niche groups, such as knitting.”

His program goals include a plan to help kids with homework difficulties, so they will do better in their daytime classes.

Kaufman received a $7,500 grant from the county’s Human Services Commission this year, although he offered to return that grant if that were the only way the county commissioners would consider a direct grant from the commissioners’ own funds.

When asked by Commissioner Tresi Houpt for a more detailed description of his budget, Kaufman responded that it was not so easy.

“If we can get rolling, we can start producing some quantifiable results,” including such things as formal budgets, he said.

But because the program is so new, he said, it is not known how many students will be served, or how much volunteer support will come from school staffs and parents, or any number of other variables that will affect the program’s finances.

“I completely believe in what is happening,” said Houpt, but she also told Kaufman, “there are a lot of nonprofits out there that need money” and that are able to give the county an exact accounting of their current financial picture. County attorney Don DeFord agreed, telling Kaufman he would need to provide a “scope of services” document and other detailed information in order for the county to be able to draw up a formal contract to legalize any donation.

“I think it’s a good program,” said Commissioner Mike Samson, a former school teacher who agreed with Kaufman that “the schools don’t have the money” to help his program at this point.

Commissioner John Martin, however, suggested that either Human Services or the school district would be a more appropriate source of funding.

“It may be the paradigm that the school district needs to do … instead of coming to the local government,” he told Kaufman, although in the end he agreed with Houpt and Samson that Kaufman should come back with a more formal application for assistance.

Kaufman said on Tuesday that he plans on consulting with an accountant this week, and to get a budget to the county next week. He still hopes to convince the county commissioners to grant him the $32,000 to get his programs through the end of 2009, and to give him a separate grant for operations in 2010.

jcolson@postindependent.com


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