Audit forces cuts in after-school program

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A Richmond County program meant to keep children off the street and in school, and provide training for adults, has been greatly reduced, part of the fallout from the alleged criminal activity of three former state employees.

"It's unfortunate that the children are having to pay the price, the families are having to pay the price, but it's the hand we've been dealt," said Kay Crawford, 21st Century Community Learning Centers' project director for Richmond County.

The program reduced its staff from 21 employees to nine and its sites from nine to three, Ms. Crawford said. Some child and family services, such as parenting classes, also have been reduced. The 21st Century program will continue offering GED classes, but it will no longer pay the $90 fee for the GED test.

The 21st Century program is a federal grant program that bridges the hours between when school lets out and the evening, opening school buildings up to the public, Ms. Crawford said.

But a state audit released in January found that the most deserving weren't the ones receiving the federal money. Instead, according to a state auditor, three employees of the Georgia Department of Education rigged the grant application process and channeled money to less deserving programs they had financial ties to. They then masked their actions by doling out money without "rhyme or reason" to other grant applicants. The employees no longer work for the state department, and the matter has been referred to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

"I went online and read the audit report and was appalled, absolutely appalled," Ms. Crawford recalled. "My fear was for my staff and it was for my students."

Richmond County should be in the third year of the five-year grant. But because the process was flawed, the State Department of Education threw out the grants and made everyone reapply for this fiscal year. The department capped grants at $350,000 for the new application process. Although Richmond County was awarded a grant, its $350,000 was less than the $529,000 it received last year and had expected to receive again this year.

"They reduced it down to an amount that makes it really difficult to make it," Ms. Crawford said. "There's no way we'll be able to run it year-round."

The 21st Century program is usually up and running in August, but Richmond County wasn't notified that it had received the grant for the school year until mid-August. She hopes the services can be in place by mid-October.

A local audit released in March commended the 21st Century program's work in Richmond County. MGT of America commended Richmond County's efforts to improve literacy and expand skills necessary for work.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.

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Craig Spinks
818
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Craig Spinks 09/18/08 - 02:07 am
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How low-down do three folks

How low-down do three folks have to be to divert for their own benefit money intended to help educate kids and remediate the academic shortcomings of undereducated adults?

iletuknow
8
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iletuknow 09/18/08 - 03:03 am
0
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The parents should have

The parents should have thought about their responsibility of having children other than increased benefits for themselves and passing on the burden to the working taxpayers.

patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 09/18/08 - 04:16 am
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While the three former

While the three former employees should be prosecuted for theft and fraud, the grants should have never been needed in the first place. Their existence shows a shortcoming at the local level that needs to be addressed. Maybe a preventative effort can be made now instead of an 'after the fact' repair program.

ibewalkintooldmemphis
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ibewalkintooldmemphis 09/18/08 - 05:14 am
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Just another "Great Society"

Just another "Great Society" give away program. I guess it is the government's responsibility for after school babysitting and providing and paying for some sorry azz to get a GED and get instruction on raising a baby which they won't apply in the first place. Oh, but I guess it is tho. We provide free breakfasts and lunches in schools, why not this. Oh yes, and I forgot, the computers for govn't housing projects in Atlanta.

SMHwhatamessthisis
0
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SMHwhatamessthisis 09/18/08 - 06:08 am
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I say put them under the jail

I say put them under the jail cell and that man who running the board of education down there he's not doing a good job.he is worthless.

Honden
2
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Honden 09/18/08 - 06:12 am
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I would like to see ALL great

I would like to see ALL great society programs ceased as well as quite a bit of the federal government. The admistrations of bureaucracies themselves cost more to support than they actually accomplish.

disssman
6
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disssman 09/18/08 - 08:00 am
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Just goes to show how the

Just goes to show how the taxpayer is being duped again. I looked this up on Google and all it basically says is this program provides a two hour program Mon-Fri. Really sounds like day-care with a snack and transportation tossed in. I did the math and it worked out to about $25K per employee (Not salary) before the cuu and near $38K per employee after the cut. Obviously if they are going to operate the program with 9 people now they could have been operating with that many before. Given that employees only work 10-12 hours a week, is anyone full time with benefits? The reason I asked is some of the activities we support with taxes really top load management salaries.

Whatthetruth
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Whatthetruth 09/18/08 - 08:20 am
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From my understanding the

From my understanding the 21st Century Learning Center, provides a lot of services to the community. The program also helps schools to make AYP and tutor students for the CRCT. If students were not in a productive after school atmosphere, they are more likely to be in the destructive environment of their deteriorating communities. It is sad that RCBOE has lost this program. I know the program in Mcduffie county has been awesome and I understand they lost their program as well. It is awful that we are not looking at the people who caused this to happen, but instead applauding what they have done by ridiculing the program instead. Would you rather have these kids destroying your property and robbing your homes?

TANIDA0609
0
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TANIDA0609 09/18/08 - 08:37 am
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For those who feel this

For those who feel this program is not worth it. I say to you shame on you.... it's an excellent program that really helps children who are in need. Maybe if you do some homework on it you will see that it does help with certain programs that are in our schools. Also as a parent of a child that is in our messed up school system right now, speaking for others as well.. we do work and some of us don't get off until late hours after school. So call it what you want babysitting or not, if Richmond County still had the program maybe our schools wouldn't be in so much trouble meeting AYP!!!!

paulweitherspoon
0
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paulweitherspoon 09/18/08 - 09:20 am
0
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Still a taxpayer afterschool

Still a taxpayer afterschool baby sitting program, do away with it totally! Babysitting, after school tutoring and snacks dhould be the parents responsibility--not mine!

godogs
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godogs 09/18/08 - 09:27 am
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Mayabe it was a good program,

Mayabe it was a good program, but I work full time and my children have no where to go afterschhool but home. There is no free program to keep them off of the streets, I DO. I call the house to check on them several times and they know they should be doing their homework and get a snack from home that I provide. They are not allowed to go outside for anything until me or my husband gets home. They are not allowed to have company without an adult home either, no matter how old they are while they are in my house until they become adults. This is called parenting and more people need to start parenting their own kids and keeping them off of the street instead of relying on the taxpayers and government to do it for them.

mable8
2
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mable8 09/18/08 - 10:53 am
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Rather than discontinue or

Rather than discontinue or reduce the programs, the UNINTENDED BENEFICIARIES should be forced to return the monies received, fined, and be made to apologize to the public on national TV and the newspapers. As for the "DONARS", they should be charged and arrested for malfeasance of office. I'm sure a jury would be glad to convict them for deliberately misappropriating public funds. And to the ranter who says parents should have thought about having children, understand this: in order to pay the mortgage, utilities, taxes, purchase food and educational needs, BOTH PARENTS HAVE TO WORK. I am quite sure that most of these parents would rather have only one parent in the work force, but that is no longer possible. We are all very happy that you are able to have everything you ever wanted or needed. Are you also childless?

disssman
6
Points
disssman 09/18/08 - 11:38 am
0
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All the above posts confirm

All the above posts confirm my suspicion that it is nothing but a daycare! The real question is where is their budget for analysis of how money is distributed! Ican't prove it but it appears from their web sites that most people are part timers and therefore have no benefits. If that is the case, where is the funding going? Given that they have only a hand full of schools in the program and they are open 10 - 13 hours a week, what are they spending money for? Given those hours they should be able to hire twice as many counselors as they do.

seemenow
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seemenow 09/18/08 - 01:02 pm
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I agree with you

I agree with you Lifeisabeach. I am not a single parent now , but was at one time (both parents work) and I relied on myself as a parent to maintain my children and their comings and goings. Both of my children are A students and know in no uncertain terms that they do not move without my knowledge, homework is done prior to me getting home, but I make it a priority to check all homework and with the teachers for assignemetns to get it all done. This is parenting. It should not be anyone elses responsibility to BABYSIT your children. The program how much it may have helped like foodstamps is a crutch that too many people rely upon.

JustMe
0
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JustMe 09/18/08 - 01:23 pm
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They have an after school

They have an after school daycare here in FL. but the parents pay for it!!!

paulweitherspoon
0
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paulweitherspoon 09/18/08 - 01:25 pm
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I don't care if both of you

I don't care if both of you work, it not the responsibility of other taxpayes to provide babysitting, snacks, tutoring and whatever else for your brats.

diamondeyeseyes4me222
0
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diamondeyeseyes4me222 09/18/08 - 02:36 pm
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It's a shame that the progams

It's a shame that the progams will be cut that will affect alot of kids in the community. It's shocking to see so many grown-ups calling kids brats and other negative opinions. Some parents work and they just can't afford to put there kids in daycare due to other finacial reasons and some parents don't work but that doesn't mean that they don't want better learning experiences for their kids. i don't look down on people or there kids who are having hard times who are we to judge. i don't mind my tax money being used to help others especially kids how could you turn your back on kids, the less fortunate. I have a chrity organization where i gice clothing and food to famililes and if some families come 9in for help who don't really need it that's on them trying to use someone who is trying to help. many people are in need and our kids are suffering i don't care who pay individuals or the government. we are losing our kids to violence and gangs and senseless killings every minute and many more programs need to be implemented for our kids.

paulweitherspoon
0
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paulweitherspoon 09/18/08 - 03:27 pm
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simple, diamond, don't have

simple, diamond, don't have kids if you can't afford them!

MyOpinion2
5
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MyOpinion2 09/18/08 - 03:48 pm
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ueEfRXZCVA .....please view Americans Freedoms being destroyed

diamondeyeseyes4me222
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diamondeyeseyes4me222 09/18/08 - 10:09 pm
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To paulweitherspoon i have

To paulweitherspoon i have kids and i could afford to take care of my kids as well as their father who is away serving our country. we try to do things to help give back to the community i don't know everyone situation maybe they could have afforded to take care of their kids in the beginning and then life problems kicked in. I don't sit up on a high horse saying this problem isn't mine that's why our community can't progress and we are behind so many other cities when it come to community programs. then we violence increase in the area many want to shout that we need more programs for the kids. you never know when you may need help just because you have a job today don't mean anything or you and your family have nice houses and cars that don't mean anything i work my husband is overseas and if i see someone who ask for our help then by all means i'm helping because i'm able to the youth need guidance and direction not to be called brats. you do what you want with your money and i'll do what i want with my but i work go to school and I'm a songwriter so i'm blessed and honor to be a mentor to many

Son of God
0
Points
Son of God 09/18/08 - 10:48 pm
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God bless you

God bless you diamondeyeseyes4me222. You are in compliance with God's word. "It is better to tie a millstone around your neck than to harm one of my little", ones says the Lord. God also says, "Suffer little children to come unto me and forbid them not." How could we be so selfish to say it is better to not have kids that we can't take care of? Didn't someone have us and were poor? Aren't we all here by God's divine power and grace and mercy? GOD is the omly one who can make bones grow in a woman's womb. How awesome that is.Keep up the good work diamondeyeseyesforme222. Comtinue to give to God's children what you are giving to them. God will bless you even more. It does not matter what circumstance occur in this earth, gOD IS STILL IN CHARGE. Deuteronomy 32:39 says, "I am He even I am He and there is no one other god with me. I kill and I MAKE ALIVE. I WOUND and I HEAL and there is no one who can deliver you out of my hand." The beginning of wisdom is the FEAR OF GOD. GOD is LOVE so if we don't have LOVE (especially for God's children) we have missed God. Children are a gift from God and we were once children ourselves. America needs to REPENT NOW OR HAVE SUFFER THE RESULTS OF GOD.

hope07
0
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hope07 09/20/08 - 07:48 pm
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Perhaps, Kay Crawford should

Perhaps, Kay Crawford should have looked for other funding to support the kids and not rely on just one funding source. The GED test cost $95.00 not $90.00

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