Some of Metro’s community education services, utilized heavily by seniors, are set to shut down for six to eight months beginning in December.
The Community Education Commission — which oversees a wide range of services including community ed classes, activities and games, most notably at the Cohn Adult High School in west Nashville — voted last month to suspend operations to create a “business plan” for operations during the next fiscal year. Programs, some which date back 30 years, would reopen in the late summer or early fall of 2011.
The decision to temporarily discontinue the services came in light of approximately $400,000 in cuts for the current fiscal year, which the Metro Council approved and Mayor Karl Dean signed off on earlier this year.
Several seniors packed the Community Education Commission’s meeting today, hoping the commission would reconsider the action. One commissioner made a motion to rescind last month’s vote, but the motion failed.
“Everybody wants the classes to continue, but we have to be good stewards of the taxpayer dollars,” said Lovette Curry, executive director of the Community Education Commission.
Commissioners said part of the hope with the business plan is to improve community services across the county. Though the commission oversees six sites, the majority of activity is centered at the Sylvan Park-based Cohn.
But Metro Councilman Jason Holleman, whose District 24 includes parts of west Nashville, said he is worried Metro’s community education services could lose momentum if they’re temporarily shut down. Instructors would go unpaid and could choose not to return. He said the community education services are important to the fabric of the Sylvan Park neighborhood.
Holleman offered to ask the council for a supplemental appropriation for the current fiscal year to secure funding and keep the program operating.
“I really have a fear that if this program is made dormant for six months, then it’s not coming back, at least in any meaningful way,” Holleman said.
Commissioners said they would speak further with Holleman about the potential supplemental appropriation request.
There’s a possibility discussions could center on funding for just Cohn, as opposed to the entire community education program.