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City Council members weigh in on 'Latchkey' program funding deba - KRISTV.com | Continuous News Coverage | Corpus Christi

City Council members weigh in on 'Latchkey' program funding debate

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The 'Latchkey' programs allows kids at two dozen CCISD schools to participate in after school activities until their parents can pick them up. The 'Latchkey' programs allows kids at two dozen CCISD schools to participate in after school activities until their parents can pick them up.
The program costs up to $400,000 in extra electric and custodial bills each year, and both the school district and the city say it is difficult for them to pick up the bill. The program costs up to $400,000 in extra electric and custodial bills each year, and both the school district and the city say it is difficult for them to pick up the bill.
CORPUS CHRISTI -

City Council members weigh in on the 'Latchkey' program debate, with many questions swirling about its funding.

That after school program is used by students at two dozen Corpus Christi schools, but as KRIS 6 News has reported it is now unclear whether the school district or the city will pay the bills to keep the program going next year. 

Council members know how important the program is to hundreds of parents and students, but many say if the city is asked to pick up the tab, they do not know where the money would come from. 

Many working parents rely on the 'Latchkey' program, which allows students to stay at school after hours and participate in activities until their parents can pick them up. 

Since 1985, the school district has provided its facilities free of charge, while the city has been responsible for running the program. However now the Corpus Christi Independent School District and the city are re-negotiating their contract for the upcoming school year, and the school district wants to pass the cost of the program on to the city. 

"It makes me sad because we ought to be able to have money to do this program," said Councilwoman Lucy Rubio, District 3, who previously served on the CCISD School Board. "It's very an important program for those working parents who want to keep their children in a safe learning environment. But also with the city side, we're struggling just to find money to do the things that we need to get done throughout the city."

School district officials say the after-hours program costs up to $400,000 in extra electric and custodial bills each year, and they believe that money needs to he reallocated into classrooms. 

Corpus Christi Parks and Recreation, which runs the program, says it will also be hard for the city to foot the bill. Many City Council members with a tight budget, the city's priorities lie elsewhere. 

"I love children, got five of them, ten grandchildren. So I'm sympathetic to what the program is," Joe McComb, Council Member At-Large, said. "But if it comes down to money, we're going to have to set our priorities. At the city, we're focused on streets, water, and wastewater. You know in tough times financially, you just have to make some tough decisions."

CCISD officials say the district is committed to serving working families' needs, but believes the city should pay the utilities bills because students are charged fees to take part in the program. Council members disagree. 

"The school district has twice the tax rate that we have. I would think they would be able to find the money quicker than we could," McComb said. 

Many council members hope to discuss the dilemma further to see if the city and the school district can reach a solution. 

"It's an important program, and we need to be able to work with each other to make sure that we can continue the program or find a suitable alternative," Ben Molina, District 2, said. 

Possible solutions could include consolidating the 'Latchkey' program, or increasing monthly fees for participating students. 

The contract between the school district and the city is up June 1st. Both the school district and the city hope to reach an agreement and find a way to keep the program going. 

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