Thursday, August 14, 2003

A history of YPT support

August 14, 2003 2:51:20 PM PDT

Dear Mr Mosley,

Thank you so much for making contact and introducing yourself. I appreciate you taking the time to do it. I am looking forward to meeting you on Monday at Houge Park Building 1 at 5.15 pm, along with other concerned parents. In advance of the meeting I would like to share some thoughts with you.

I have concerns about Sara Hensley's comments written on page 437 of "Core Service; Life Enjoyment Services, City Service Area: Recreation and Cultural services, Budget changes by Core Service. It clearly states that her proposal will consolidate the Kirk Theater program and the Sage theater Program into a City wide theater program. These programs are in different districts, 6 and 9 respectively. It is stated that the programs "serve the larger Willow Glen area". Kirk Theater is already serving the whole of San Jose. People come from all over San Jose now. The YPT is not an exclusive program. Why destroy something amazing and wonderful when we already have exactly what Ms Hensley wants now. I wonder how much she knows about or understands the program and the YPT community. The new City wide brochure will certainly promote it further. However, I have severe reservations about that very costly new initiative too. People will be expecting to receive their brochures in the mail and will be left waiting....... advertising the new brochure in the garbage bills is an interesting marketing initiative.

I can see many flaws in the document referred to above. The loss of one of the programs will mean less children will be able to perform and be involved due to stage restrictions. Eliminating duplicate summer camps will mean less children being able to participate. She concludes that"Performance Results: No change to current service levels are anticipated" A two thirds budget cut from 3,000 hours to 1,040 hours and the loss of a key staff member can only mean a substantial cut to current services. If the YPT cannot perform due to budget and staff cuts it cannot bring in the money it does and will not be able to share the created wealth.

I am also very concerned about the number of management positions in the division and especially the two newly created positions ($125,000 x2)It is my understanding that two new jobs have been created in the Senior center too. It seems a little extravagant to me to be adding expensive positions in a "Budget Crisis" year and very short sighted to be eliminating positions like Cassie Heropoulos who is delivering the very programs that the children of San Jose so badly need. Aren't children's after school programs a priority anymore?

By removing Cassie Heropoulos from the program you are effectively removing an organ from a body. She is a lynch pin to the whole program. She is assistant to Carole Ferris-Greer. She is a talented and very effective choreographer and even more important the children adore her. She has been with the program ten years and worked for the program for the last five. She has grown up with the program and she is giving back to it. The program has been her life and is her family and community. She deserves better.

The program was established in 1980's and it has evolved and grown for over twenty years. Kirk Theater was not thrown together in a year. Clearly, it takes time for something to grow and reach maturity. There are many other people who grew up in the program too who continue to give back to it. At the summer camps it was wonderful to see past participants volunteering to be part of the process of ongoing mentoring. The City of San Jose's slogan is "Building Strong Communities". If the cuts are not reversed it will be responsible for destroying a thriving community.

The YPT makes a lot of money. It made $50,000 last year. That is something to be proud of. The members of YPT make donations to the Second Harvest Food Bank, Breast Cancer Charities and Toys for children at Christmas, to name but a few of the outreach programs. There is a true community here at Kirk Theater. People talk glibly about a sense of community and building strong communities. The City should be making this community stronger by supporting it not making cuts that will inevitably result in the demise of an amazing and wonderful institution.

Having read the documents on line I am unconvinced that these cuts are solely about money. A more democratic approach who have been to involve the YPT community in any changes that are being considered. A consultative document could have been prepared and shared. I am concerned about one person's vision. I am also concerned about the lack of public accountability for these proposed changes. Many people don't have time to read about these decisions. Most people would be willing to accept that the cuts are about lack of money. I don't think they are entirely about money. I am a vested member in my community and I believe I am right to be concerned about these issues.

I understand that you have a very demanding job and that really tough decisions need to be made. I am certain that we are on the same side and am pleased to have the opportunity to discuss these matters.The members of YPT are relying on your integrity to see the value of the program and to work to help restore it to the previous 3,000 hours and re-instate Cassie. The program is a real jewel for the whole of San Jose and the people who work so hard to make it so successful deserve our support and admiration.

yours very sincerely,

Rosemary Marks