February 22, 2017

Leisure Services Proposes Scholarship Cuts

City Dope

Photo Credit: Athens-Clarke County

Scholarships pay for children from low-income families to participate in activities like summer camps.

Not for the first time, ACC commissioners were briefed at last week’s work session about the costs of recreational “scholarships”—discounts based on parents’ income given to children in county recreational programs. The discounts, available for years, have become increasingly popular. Some 1,100 children took advantage of them last year, receiving $266,000 worth of scholarships, but they add to the cost of Leisure Services programs, such as summer day camps, and that has prompted commissioners to examine them.  

“It’s gone through a lot of changes over the years,” mostly expanding the program, Recreation Administrator Myla Neal told commissioners. A particular concern is that over a third of full-scholarship kids registered in some programs were no-shows; in some cases, extra staff had already been hired for the kids who never showed up.

Now Leisure Services is recommending that scholarships be limited to 25, 50 or 75 percent, rather than 100 percent, of each program’s normal charge, depending on income, and capped at $400 per child; and that tax forms be required to assess income. Commissioners will vote on the changes in March.

Scholarship programs that exist in other Georgia cities are more limited than ACC’s, Neal said; some are funded by outside sources, and that could be a possibility here too.