Libby Dempsey: Day camp loss a step backwards for Summit County |

Libby Dempsey: Day camp loss a step backwards for Summit County

It has been said we live in a small town. Clearly it is collection of five towns, but the area lives like a small town. When people say they live in a small town, the next word that always springs up is “community.” We see each other at restaurants, grocery stores, and so on. When somebody in the community needs help we step up. Reading that Summit School District pulled the plug on their summer camps and before/after-school day camps is a blow to the community. It is definitely a step backwards.

The odd thing is how it went down. The first many in the community knew about it was a letter sent home noting that the program had been canceled. That was the arc of the discussion. Done. Kaput. No discussion, no alternatives, no revised business plan or discussion of fee increases. A service vital to many in the community and helps really make an expensive area more livable was canceled with little or no community discussion. The article went on to say that per school 23-53 families were enrolled per school. So likely 100-150, many in real need of the service, are left to find a new way. Each of those families may not use the service daily, but clearly all are enrolled to use it when necessary. Now they search to find another option or, as happens so often, they move to an area where the service is available. Add to the mix that a few jobs were lost in the process.

The shortfall for the year? $7,000 (on a budget of $300,000 in revenue). Am I to believe that this couldn’t be made up by a small fee increase to the summer program, a minimum day requirement for families enrolled, required volunteer hours, consolidation, or some other solution? We’ll never know.

Again, I’m sure many will say it isn’t part of the school district’s primary mission, but it is also turning a cold shoulder to the community. The program was never charity. It was parent funded. With a little work, creativity and discussion it could have continued on. Hopefully this isn’t a sign of things to come with the new superintendent. She comes from fiscally and socially conservative Colorado Springs where residents wanting to keep their street bright at night were able to “adopt their own streetlight.” Maybe the “primary mission” of Summit School District is just readin’, writin’ and ‘rithmetic. Soon maybe you’ll get to teach your kid art or music or social studies or science. You know, the non-essential stuff. The board just made a bone-headed decision on the day camps. Let’s hope they didn’t make the same bone-headed decision with this new superintendent.

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