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October 2010
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CityLink Seattle

An Open Letter to Queen Anne Residents from the Superintendent

Dear Queen Anne residents,

Over the past week or so there has been a healthy community dialogue about proposed changes to community center operations due to the budget reductions required by the slowed economy. The $67 million revenue shortfall the city faces, combined with uncertainty about the future, forces us to think creatively and to find new ways to do business. 

We developed the budget using these guiding principles: providing a diverse range of park and recreation opportunities equitably distributed across the city, exploring new ways to deliver services and programs, strengthening existing partnerships and developing new ones, and preserving our living and built infrastructure. Unfortunately we were faced with no good choices.  Closing community centers or pools and completely stopping maintenance at parks were options we worked hard to avoid. Faced with closing facilities, parks staff worked creatively to find ways to keep doors open for public access.  

This is to describe to you the process Parks and Recreation and the City Budget Office went through as we identified the substantial budget reductions that appear in the 2011 proposed city budget. For detail about other Parks budget reductions, please go to www.seattle.gov/parks.

In selecting community centers at which to try a cost-savings alternative management model, we took into consideration neighborhood demographics, revenues the center generates, proximity to other community centers and similar service providers, and the center’s volume of child care and preschool programming.  

While the proposed models for operation of these community centers will mean less programming provided by Parks and Recreation, we are actively looking for partners who can provide alternative programming options. 

Queen Anne Community Center was chosen because it:

  1. Provides less scheduled programming than many of the other community centers, due, in part, to several previous necessary maintenance closures.
  2. Generates less revenue needed to support the center in relation to many other community centers.
  3. Has a relatively small Associated Recreation Council-administered child care program.
  4. Is next door to McClure Middle School, where Parks already has regular access to the school’s gym and which is the site of a Parks-administered Community Learning Center. 
  5. Is in reasonable proximity to Magnolia, Montlake and Miller community centers, and other recreational opportunities. 

Parks was fortunate enough to be working with a program called Biz Kid$ when we were considering closing community centers. Biz Kid$ offers a program that is directly compatible with parks and recreation programs and offers the opportunity to expand our program offerings in an exciting way. While we will lose some programming we will gain new programming in an arena that is important to our youth – financial literacy. 

It is important to note that if Biz Kid$ does not partner with Parks, the budget problem will not be solved, it will be exacerbated. Today’s budget constraints, combined with the loss of anticipated Biz Kid$ revenue, mean it will still be necessary to further limit or cease programs at Queen Anne or another community center. 

Biz Kid$ (http://www.bizkids.com/) will provide an important educational opportunity for young participants to learn critical life skills that will serve them well as adults. In the U.S., children between the ages of 8 and 14 control $39 billion shopping dollars each year and influence billions more in purchases (2003 report from Marketresearch.com). 

According to a 2010 report by the Foundation for Credit Counseling, one third of adults put no money toward retirement; 30 percent have no savings; 39 percent of young adults have no savings and would put emergency expenses on a credit card; and 28 percent of adults do not pay their bills on time. And VISA is marketing a Hilary Duff VISA card to “tweens” that can be used like a debit card. Financial literacy education for the young has proven to help youth become smart about money as adults, and Parks is anxious for our youth to have a chance to participate. 

Biz Kid$ is a national television series produced by the same organization that produced “Bill Nye the Science Guy.” It has earned a number of industry awards, including a Silver Telly for Financial Literacy production, the Environmental Media Award for Outstanding Children’s Television, and an Emmy Award for graphic design. 

The program focuses on teaching financial literacy and entrepreneurial skills to children and youth, and airs in 99% of the country on PBS. It has been in production since October 2006 in Seattle, has hired more than 300 local people in various trades pertaining to television production, and has given local youth opportunities to serve as TV extras.    

In the partnership with Biz Kid$, they will enter into a one year lease with Parks for exclusive use of the gymnasium and some office and storage space (about 8,000 square feet, or 29% of the building) in the center. They will pay rent and provide a range of opportunities to children and youth to be involved in TV production and financial literacy and entrepreneurial training. Details are now being worked out, but some of the opportunities under discussion are:

  • A mentoring program for McClure Middle schoolers and Community Learning Center participants.
  • Financial literacy workshops and camps, similar to successful camps in Tampa, FL that drew more than 10,000 attendees  in 2009.
  • Working with youth as interns in writing, prop and costume design, and extra talent during production.
  • Auditions and casting for acting roles from local school theatre programs.
  • An after school program that replicates one that Biz Kid$ did with Boys and Girls Clubs in South King County and Pierce County in 2008.
  • An entrepreneurship program that would culminate in a “Best Lemonade Stand Day” event and contest. Winners would receive small scholarships to help them pursue additional educational opportunities.
  • Community outreach events offering activities and games focused on financial literacy and entrepreneurship.   

If Biz Kid$ leases space in QACC, this staffing will remain:

  • Half time janitor
  • Full time Recreation Coordinator
  • Full time Recreation Attendant
  • Half time Recreation Leader

 Operating hours will be:

  • 30 hours of operating hours (fee based)
  • 15 hours of drop-in

The building is available for rentals when it is not open to the public. 

Programs that will continue are UK Elite Petite Soccer, Instructional Youth Basketball (6-7 years), School Age Care – After School Program, School Age Care – Summer Break/Day Camps, Teen Drop-in Gym/Teen Room, Teen Advisory Council, Teen Fitness, Teen Cooking, Teen Gardening, Drop in Fitness Room, Beginning Pottery, Intermediate Pottery, Intermediate Pottery, Pottery Studio, Senior Circuit Training, Senior Badminton, Senior Aerobics, Senior Tai Chi, Senior Yoga, Senior Pickleball, Senior Bingo, Senior Crafty Ladies, Senior Mahjong, Senior Monday Meals, Senior Book Group, Kids Play with Clay, and Toddler Open Gym. 

These programs will move to Magnolia Community Center: Poly Glot French Language Class, Polly Glot Mandarin Language Class, Polly Glot Japanese Language Class, Poly Glot Spanish Language Class, Flag Football (possible move to Montlake CC), Tae Kwon Do (possible move to Montlake CC), Pilates (possible move to Montlake CC), Capoeira (possible move to Montlake CC), Yoga, Hip Hop Dance (possible move to Montlake CC), some Citywide Youth Basketball teams (10 -17 years), Girls Volleyball (possible move to Montlake CC), QuickStart Youth Tennis, Instructional Youth Soccer, Tiny Hip Hop Dance Class, Little All Stars. 

These programs will move to Montlake Community Center: Tae Kwon Do, Pilates, Capoeira, Flag Football, Hip Hop Dance, and Girls Volleyball. 

McClure Middle School Gym will be available September through June, Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from  5 to 9 p.m. During basketball season, November through March, Queen Anne Community Center can use the gym on Thursdays from 7 to 9 p.m. The exceptions to these dates are Nov. 9 and 10, Dec. 14, April 9, May 18 and 26, and June 18, when the school has events scheduled. 

While the gym has not been available in the summer months for the past three years, we are working with the school to see if it could be available for day camps and evenings. These programs will move to McClure gym: eight citywide youth basketball teams for youth ages 10 to 17, four Cub basketball teams for ages 8-9 (November 30 to March), and two Family Fun Nights per month on Fridays. 

Parks staff are exploring the potential for having pickleball and other Lifelong Recreation use, instructional basketball, and drop-in basketball at the school.

Classes that will no longer be offered are In-Line Skating and Fresh Air Preschool (possibly). 

There will be limited hours of drop-in time. 

Unfortunately, in this economy, it is not possible to keep all parks and recreation programs operating in every location as our communities have come to expect and enjoy. Again, we regret that making these choices is necessary. We have done our best to develop creative options for moving forward. 

Sincerely,

Christopher Williams, Acting Superintendent

Seattle Parks and Recreation