BARRE — A popular out-of-school program that has served thousands of Granite City youngsters over the past 15 years will end when Barre City Elementary and Middle School lets out for the summer.
Though Cityscape has been threatened by the potential loss of federal funding before, the Washington County Youth Service Bureau has always managed to keep it running.
Not this time.
“This isn’t a false alarm,” WCYSB Executive Director Kreig Pinkham said Friday. “The program is going away.”
It was only a matter of time, according to Pinkham, who said the budget for Cityscape has been shrinking over the past several years as a number of its supporting grants have either been reduced or eliminated.
The first big blow came two years ago when a grant obtained through the U.S. Department of Education expired. Pinkham said that grant generated $100,000 in revenue needed to pay for the range of programs that Cityscape offers to middle school students at BCEMS.
Last year Cityscape was funded primarily with a 21st Century Learning Community Center grant that was obtained through the Vermont Department of Education and a grant from the Boys & Girls Club of America that originated with the Federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Programs.
However, both funding sources had been on the decline and the bureau recently got word that one — the Boys & Girls Club grant — was being eliminated.
According to Pinkham, that was back-breaking news, because it deprived WCYSB of money the organization had hoped to use as its 50 percent match to secure a new round of 21st Century money.
“We have zero funding (for Cityscape),” Pinkham said, explaining that while programs will continue through the end of the school year there will be no traditional summer offerings through Cityscape.
According to Pinkham, WCYSB is exploring a possible partnership with the Aldrich Public Library in an effort to try to fill the summer void and the bureau will be hosting a community there next week to begin thinking longer term.
“In the short term there’s going to be a gap, but where we go next is a very good question,” he said.
Pinkham is hoping residents with ideas will attend next Thursday’s 4:30 p.m. meeting in the library’s Milne Community Room. Residents who are unable to attend the meeting are encouraged to share their thoughts about future programming options by calling Pinkham at 229-9151 or emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Initially started as an after-school program, Cityscape was expanded to provide activities for students during the summer and on school vacations. It was one of the first after-school programs in Vermont to be funded with 21st Century funds made available through the U.S. Department of Education. Though the patchwork of outside funding had evolved, Pinkham said the average program budget for Cityscape over the past five years has been about $150,000.
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