Friday, April 19, 2024

What seems to be overshadowed by the issues debated in the current City Council campaign is the day-to-day need of families, adults and seniors for programs that enrich and promote their quality of life.

This need is met year-round by one of the best and longest-serving city programs, the Community School Programs of the Department of Human Services Programs.

Yet, after 43 years of successfully serving Cambridge residents of all ages, these 12 Community School Programs must operate with a much smaller staff than any other city program serving children, families and seniors. None the less, the Community School Programs serve more children than any other program, private or public, in Cambridge, for far less money.

For nearly a quarter-century we have had to lobby for every dollar added to the budget of the Community School Programs. Over the years, the Citywide Community Council, a group of volunteers who support the Community School Programs in their neighborhoods, have filled in where a paid city employee would be found in other city programs serving children and families.

With great excitement, the Citywide Community School Council welcomed the announcement by Clean Slate candidates Nadeem Mazen, Janneke House and Dennis Carlone that, once elected, they will initiate action in City Council to add full-time positions to each Community School Program in an effort to begin to put these programs on an equal footing with other city programs serving, children, youth, families and seniors.

To insure the continuation of these outstanding Community Schools, please consider giving your top vote choices, Nos. 1, 2 and 3, to this slate. Affordable, high-caliber programming for city children is at stake.

The Community School Programs of Cambridge provide academic and enrichment classes for more than 1,500 children throughout the 10-month school year. In the full-day, licensed summer camps, approximately 900 children take advantage of the tutoring, sports, field trips and arts included in our creative and enriching programs.

Our tax dollars are managed wisely by the directors of our 12 community schools. Taxpayers ought to know that the city pays nine times more per child for city after-school care compared with the cost per child at Community School Programs. The cost for a member of the city youth centers is roughly two to three times more than a child enrolled in the Community School Programs. In addition, Community School Programs provide programming for more than 300 seniors per year. When considering the incredible value and the tremendous bargain our Community School Programs represent for Cambridge taxpayers, it’s heartening to see City Council candidates who understand education in our city. I am confident that, following the Clean Slate’s lead, no future city councillor will decline to add a full-time city-funded staff position to the Community School Programs. Our program deserves to bring staffing levels closer to the far larger staffing levels of the other city programs serving, children, youth, families and seniors.

Carolyn ShipleyLaurel Street