This service was amazing. The counselor was a talented, insightful intern from John F. Kennedy University who would soon open her own practice in Walnut Creek. My husband and son went to the sessions together, and those weekly sessions helped my then 6-year-old get over his anger and feel better about himself and his father and about being in school. The sessions also helped my husband and son reinforce their bond and, overall, help our family recover from a tough couple years.
The Walnut Creek School District provided this counselor to my son’s school, and provided counselors at other campuses in the district. But the district couldn’t do it alone. A $30,000 matching grant from the City of Walnut Creek makes this service possible.
Now, with our tough budget times, the city may not be able to contribute that grant. This agreement to help pay for school counseling services is just one of the partnerships between the school district and the city that are at risk.
The future of these partnerships, which benefit schools and families in our community, was the topic of a special joint meeting between Walnut Creek School District and Walnut Creek city officials Wednesday.
Walnut Creek is facing an $8 million deficit this fiscal year. The school district has already cut $1 million from its $24 million budget.
Mayor Sue Rainey said the city values its partnership with the schools, and always wants to do what it can to help them. “The city of Walnut Creek values our schools and education. That’s one of the reasons people move to Walnut Creek: for our school systems. “
But she added that the city can’t know how much, if anything, it can contribute to the district for counseling and other services right now. The city is in the process of finalizing next fiscal year's budget. So, is the school district. Unfortunately, Rainey added, things don’t look too promising.
“It’s getting bloody,” said Rainey said. “This time we are really, really feeling it. We may have to cut some support to the school district.”
Another partnership at risk is the maintenance of the athletic fields at the district’s six campusus.
The Walnut Creek School District has been using some of the $20 million from the 2002 bond measure to renovate or replace the six sports fields at its schools. Four schools now have new and improved fields that are safe and state-of-the art and which are used by the schools’ students and by sports leagues throughout the city. Two more fields will be fixed up this summer.
But the city may not be able to afford the $100,000 it annually provides to help maintain those fields. That’s been the arrangement for a number a years under a partnership the city has with the school district. Without the city’s help, the school district isn’t sure where it will come up with the money to prevent those fields from turning brown, says Patty Wool. And, she added, all that money the district spent on fixing up those fields will go to waste.
Other partnerships in question are the crossing guards that are provided at key locations in both the Walnut Creek and Mt. Diablo Unified School districts. The city’s police department pays $110,000 to contract with a company to provide those crossing guards. This year, as in past years, the city is warning both districts that this money is not guaranteed and might not be available next year.
Other partnerships discussed Wednesday are ways in which the city uses Walnut Creek School District facilities to run some of its arts and recreation programs—for example, the Arts, Adventures and Academic summer camp that will take place this summer at Walnut Creek Intermediate. However, some partnerships don’t necessarily cost money, or a lot of money, such as the district working with city and the library to make the library a resource for WCI students who can easily walk from campus after school.