City-run programs and sports leagues will suffer this year without the use of South-Western school buildings.

City-run programs and sports leagues will suffer this year without the use of South-Western school buildings.

To balance the 2010 budget, district officials have chosen to close school buildings an hour after the school day ends, leaving the city parks and recreation staff scrambling for other locations for after-school programs and leagues.

City parks and rec director Kim Conrad said the programs could cost the city an additional $30,000 from last year. The money would be used to rent other community spaces for the programs.

She said she is sure city-run volleyball and basketball leagues for elementary, middle and intermediate school students will suffer because of lack of space.

"This is a tragedy for our community no matter who you are," Conrad said. "This affects not just the kids, but everyone."

A maximum of 240 children can enroll in city before- and after-school programs, she said. The program will go unchanged, except for locations.

She said she will ask city council members to amend appropriations to allow for the additional $30,000 needed to rent and maintain the alternative locations, but the actual dollar amount is still being estimated.

"There are still a lot of question marks," she said. "It's not a done deal."

Programs that were run in school buildings will now be run at The Cheer Center, 1761 Gateway Circle, Grace Community Church, 2345 Demorest Road, Crosslink Community Church, 4614 Rensch Road, and the city's Evans Center and Park Annex.

Tenting and keeping clean The Cheer Center and Grace Community Church could cost the city $7,480 for each location this school year, according to parks and rec estimations.

Rent and cleaning supplies for Crosslink Community Church could cost $11,900 for the school year.

Before-school programming will be held at the Evans Center, Conrad said.

She said students enrolled in the after-school program will either be bused to the location or escorted by the city staff, depending on the school.

Richard Avenue and Monterey elementary school students will be bused by South-Western school buses to Grace Community Church.

Buckeye Woods students will go to Crosslink Community Church.

Highland Park students will go to The Cheer Center.

Park Street students will walk, escorted by the staff, from school to the Park Annex at 4034 12 Broadway. Hayes elementary student will be bused to the annex.

J.C.Sommer students will be escorted to the Evans Center at 4330 Dudley Avenue.

Conrad said although the city is incurring extra costs for the location changes, the enrollment fee for programming will not change.

"We wanted to be able to provide this service to the people," she said. "We're looking at this as a temporary fix right now."

She said ultimately she hopes a levy will pass, making the changes eventually obsolete.

About 200 students have signed up for before- and after-school programs so far, she said.

Finding replacement spaces for youth volleyball and basketball leagues, though, is more challenging, Conrad said.

"Obviously that's a more specialized space we have to find," she said.

Buckeye Ranch, the Grove City YMCA and many churches already have sports leagues, making it difficult to accommodate city leagues, she said.

Conrad said the Southwest YMCA in Urbancrest will allow the city to use its space. Churches might be used on a "limited basis," she added.

She said 350 elementary, middle and intermediate school students enrolled in the city's fall volleyball league last year. More than 1,000 enrolled in the city's winter basketball league.

Because basketball will occur in the winter after the Nov. 3 levy attempt, that league might be unaffected if the levy passes, she said.

Nevertheless, lack of space will reduce numbers for the volleyball league.

"We're not going to be able to accommodate nearly as many as we used to," she said.

She added almost every elementary and middle school gym in the city was used for the leagues last year.

"To find alternative spaces for that many spaces is going to be impossible, quite frankly," Conrad said.

ebrooks@thisweeknews.com