SF parks benefiting from summer school cutbacks 

It’s not all about cuts this summer.

The school board did ax the majority of its summer school classes, but those cuts have translated into extra business for the Recreation and Park Department.

The city department, which is facing a budget shortfall, is offering 38 percent more of its extracurricular activities — from badminton to gymnastics — to make room for children who otherwise might have attended school during the summer. The offerings include 63 summer camps, 542 total weeks of programming with 16,000 slots for attendees.

The increase in offerings is also one way that the department is working toward  Mayor Gavin Newsom’s mandated $12.4 million cut to its $33.4 million operation budget. Instead of making cuts, the department is also working to increase revenue sources.

The number of spring registrations has nearly doubled since last year — from about 4,000 to 7,000 — earning Rec and Park $151,000, also almost twice as much last year, said Rec and Park General Manager Phil Ginsburg.

Other fundraisers are also filling the hole. When five recreation centers opened, they did not have any equipment, but the nonprofit San Francisco Parks Trust threw a fundraiser at the new Hamilton Recreation Center recently, raising $40,000 for new gear.

The nonprofit has also helped Friends of Presidio Heights Playground raise $800,000 to renovate their playground because it was
No. 254 on the list of parks in The City in need of work.

“We started to really hit our stride,” said Karen Kidwell, executive director of the nonprofit. “It’s all about the small success stories right now.”

Rec and Park also received a $100,000 gift to pave a basketball court at the Eugene Recreation Center, Ginsburg said.

“So there’s some good news,” he said of the financial situation.


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