Back-to-school planning has taken on an added urgency for parents who for years have depended on after-school programs at local recreation centers.
The Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners voted 4-3 at a budget reconciliation meeting July 27 to close a majority of recreation centers and to abandon all after-school programming.
The Brandon Recreation Center on East Sadie Street is one of the 10-11 centers that will remain open, according to the plan adopted as proposed by the Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department.
The vote leaves some parents scrambling to find after-school care for their kids with schools reopening in less than a month.
Classes begin Aug. 23.
Meanwhile, Marty Bradley, who has worked at the Brandon Recreation Center for decades, is poised to answer questions about what’s next once that determination has been made.
“They have to give us the guidance and the go-ahead to move forward one way or another so we can let parents know what they can count on for out-of-school programming at the Brandon Recreation Center,” she said.
“There’s a lot of creative things we can do, a lot of creative programming we can offer, but until we know what we can do with the resources available we will have to wait to make that determination."
The clock, indeed, is ticking.
"Parents will need to know soon,” Bradley agreed. "School starts in less than a month.”
The spending cuts approved by commissioners July 27 call for cutting 110 recreation positions and for closing 25 to 30 recreation centers.
Overall, about one in four positions for the department overall will be cut.
“First and foremost, we’re concerned about the kids,” Bradley said. “A lot of our parents are middle- to low-income, and especially so in this economy. They need to be sure their kids are somewhere in activities that are supervised.”