Youth groups in Fort Myers are set to lose funding.
The City of Fort Myers voted to funnel all of the budgeted $319,000 into the S.TA.R.S. Complex.
While several programs use that money for kids, people want to know if it makes sense to allocate the whole budget for one place.
Another youth center in the city, Quality Life Center of Southwest Florida, is set to lose more than $130,000 if the funds are redirected. The director of the program said this could mean cuts to programs, staff and even scholarships given out to help lower income families. Hundreds of kids rely on the education, arts and counseling services at the Quality Life Center.
“She’s actually grown in the area with her social activities, anger management, her business skills,” Jacquelyn Holloway, whose daughter attends Quality Life Center.
Only one member of Fort Myers City Council voted against taking money away from other programs.
“If we don’t have the dollars, that means we can’t pay staff,” said Abdul’Haq Muhammed, executive director and founder of Quality Life Center. “We can’t pay staff. We can’t provide quality activities at the level we’ve been.”
With a waiting list to get in, a new expansion is meant bring in even more kids and shape them in a positive way.
“We won a national award of being the best after school program in the country,” Muhammed said. “The 50 top after school programs in the country. Why would you take resources from a productive organization?”
Kids here agree. They say they appreciate their teachers and the programs at the center.
“I know most of their names by heart,” Reanna Ducasse. “And I actually know what they do. It will hurt me if I know that like things will change.”
The city council plans to take a closer look at the programs losing their funding and try to see if there’s any way they can partner with the stars complex, but that’s something they are still working on a plan for.