With two weeks until classes resume, City Council President Anna Brosche and Mayor Lenny Curry announced that an additional 740 Duval County kids will receive afterschool services in the coming school year.
Monday’s announcement, which Curry called a Band-Aid, was the latest development in a months-long discussion about the city money spent on summer camp and afterschool programming. The two agencies that oversee summer camp and afterschool — the Jax Journey and the Jacksonville Children’s Commission — each decided to pay more per child in an effort to drive up quality. But, without more money available for those programs, fewer kids would be served than in years past.
Curry has for months been frustrated with the commission and Journey “drama,” as he has called it, and has promised to significantly shake up the two city entities. His reforms have not yet been announced, but legislation is expected to be filed soon.
Nearly $1.1 million in re-appropriated funding will be used to add nine additional afterschool sites, bringing the total to 58 when school resumes later this month. The commission estimates it will serve 6,480 kids in afterschool this fall with the increased budget.
“As I’ve stated many times before, our youth are our city’s future, and I believe every child deserves access to programs and initiatives that will build brighter futures, pathways and opportunities for them,” Curry said in a statement. “Although we are pleased to increase the offerings and improve access, we recognize that this is essentially a Band-Aid.
“It is another stopgap measure to help meet the urgent needs of children this school year, which is why the reforms that I will be introducing are essential to our children.”
Brosche said this announcement coincides with a time of year when the community is “full of hope about the new school year.”
“How the city wraps itself around our children is one of the most important investments we can make in our future,” she said in a statement.
Jon Heymann, CEO of the commission, applauded Brosche and Curry’s announcement.
“We look forward to working with the Mayor’s Office and City Council to serve these additional children in the upcoming school year,” Heymann said in a statement.
Curry, surrounded by half of City Council, announced in June nearly $1 million more for summer camp, which added 1,700 more kids. That brought the total for the summer to 5,910. The money was scraped from unspent contracts of the commission and Journey, and led to essentially every summer camp provider who qualified receiving funding.
That announcement came after members of City Council said they were blindsided by the fact that fewer kids would go to camp this summer, despite the discussions about revamping the funding model taking place for more than a year.