Maple Lawn reopening is up to GAPS – Hasso Hering


A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Maple Lawn reopening is up to GAPS

Written May 15th, 2020 by Hasso Hering

Maple Lawn Preschool the way it looked on May 14.

Like just about everything else, Albany’s city-run Maple Lawn Preschool has been closed since March 13 by the coronavirus shutdown. But it could reopen in the fall if the school board agrees.

Under an agreement Parks and Recreation Director Kim Lyddane worked out with the Greater Albany Public Schools administration, the city parks department will continue to operate Maple Lawn but GAPS will pay all of the preschool’s expenses for three years.

The city council voted 4-2 on Wednesday to accept the agreement. Councilmen Rich Kellum and Mike Sykes voted against it. They had expected that after this school year, the city would completely end its role in the preschool business.

A year ago, the parks department proposed to close Maple Lawn in order to save money. After an outcry from parents of present and former preschoolers, and after getting a little more revenue for the city budget, the council agreed to keep the place open for one more year while the staff looked for others to continue the program after the 2019-20 school year.

GAPS Business Director Russ Allen says the school board will take up the Maple Lawn contract on June 1. Like the city, the school district now faces severe budget problems of its own. Employees are being furloughed two days a week through the end of the school year next month. The legislature’s new business tax, intended to pay for expanded school programs, is likely not to produce much. And the state, which pays for most school costs, expects sharp losses in expected tax revenue in 2020-21.

At full enrollment, Maple Lawn has 88 children in six classes. The school has the equivalent of just under three full-time staff members.

Material presented to the council did not estimate expenses for 2020-21. But for ’21-22, the school is expected to cost about $256,000, of which fees at full enrollment would cover $132,000 and the school district would pay the rest, about $124,000.

If the school board agrees with the contract, and the public schools reopen as now scheduled, Maple Lawn too will again have children in it this fall. (hh)

Maple Lawn’s windows display greetings to anyone getting close enough to read them.

6 responses to “Maple Lawn reopening is up to GAPS”

  1. Steve Reynolds says:

    This issue, I think one is one of the most interesting discussions that came out of the council meeting Wednesday, it represents yet another elimination of a service in the city. Two questions, first why is there no longer funding for this? and second, where is the funding that originally was used for this service now being diverted? Something is causing us to fall behind. Is losing this service just expected, another one that’s chipped away from a once healthy community?

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but as I recall, one of the early thoughts behind “pulling the plug” was the thinking that folks living outside of Albany were taking advantage of the program, thereby benefiting without contributing…

    • centrist says:

      “A once healthy community”
      Umm, I don’t get it

      • Dick Olsen says:

        Roosevelt’s New Deal gave us better communities. Now Trump and the”one-percenters” are chipping it away. Take a look at How Swedes and Norwegians Broke the Power of the “1 Percent” by George Lakey.

        • Steve Reynolds says:

          Dick this sounds like an interesting read. Right now, Ray and I are reading “Great Society” by Amity Shlaes which is kind of an opposite view of the New Deal and the economic policies spawned in the Great Society.

          There’s a few of us debating an interesting topic right now, has “livability in Albany increased or decreased over the years since that time of the Great Society, 60.s, 70’s? Obviously there’s opinions on both sides but it’s an interesting road to go down.

          There’s a whole list of positives that Albany has achieved:

          1. Albany is much more “vibrant” with the improvements downtown – primarily due to the URD
          2. The environment is cleaner with the elimination of field-burning.
          3. The environment in Albany is cleaner since the paper-mill shut down.
          4. We have a brand new Police facility that should last 30-50 years.
          5. We have a brand new downtown Fire Station that should last 30-50 years.
          6. We have several new schools and more improvements to come.
          7. We have a very well-established Art & Air Festival
          8. We have a very well-established River Rhythms program in the summer.
          9. We have an incredible Albany Historic Carousel & Museum downtown.
          10. We have a vastly improved Dave Clark Path.
          11. We have many more excellent & needed assisted living centers
          12. Samaritan Health has greatly expanded their “footprint” in Albany
          13. We have an additional & much larger Library.
          14. We have more industrial-type businesses and many more/smaller independents
          15. Albany’s crime statistics have dropped dramatically in that time-frame.
          List courtesy of RK

          On the other side…

          There’s increased traffic without corresponding mitigation, increase of high density rental housing without adequate increases in levels of service, reduction in owner occupied single family residences especially with ample room between neighbors, cluster developments, lack of funds for infrastructure upgrades but more important, lack of funds for the future maintenance of the infrastructure. Reduction of services, I.E Libraries, Pre-School, reduction in Parks and Recreation activities.

          It seems two main themes have come to the surface as to the reason why there are a reduction in public services and and an increase in public deficits, not counting the current situation. One side blames the fact we are not collecting enough in development fees and property taxes to add these housing units, each housing unit added is being subsidized by those housing units already built thereby diluting the amount of services that can be offered. And on the other side, PERS is identified as the main culprit; unrealistic, artificial, guaranteed returns. A state system of unsustainable compounding that swallows up local budgets.

          Right now we’ve kind of identified an area that I want to understand a little more, the weight of each “plan” we should be taking into consideration when creating development codes and making planning decisions. I want to go back and re-read the livability section of the city’s Comprehensive Plan and compare it to the Strategic Plan, and then kind of compare it to the original intent of the McCall administration as outlined in “Fire at Eden’s Gate, Tom McCall and The Oregon Story”. One theme that everyone is agreeing with is that Salem is taking a much more active role in local development, if they don’t like your decisions or your local planning, they just override. This is a concept I have found under the original McCall doctrine, state oversight. However at that time it was advocated to preserve livability and protect the natural resources of Oregon not increase density or force housing development that could be argued as detrimental to the community.

          So Dick, I look forward to reading this recommendation, RK says reading is cheap entertainment, I agree, much better than watching people argue on the television. There ‘s a lot of downtime right now, it’s a great time to learn the nuts and bolts of how Oregon works.

          • Dick Olsen says:

            Thanks Steve, Tom McCall is one of my all-time heroes. I’ll take a look at the Fire at the Gates book. If you like Lakey’s story on the Swedes and Norwegians taking on the one percenters, look up his book on Viking Economics you’ll probably like it too.

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