Jack Michalak works on a project during the 2011 Ticonderoga summer youth recreation program. The program, which wasn’t held last year because of budget cuts, may return in 2013 if enough children register.
The town of Ticonderoga will attempt to renew its annual summer youth recreation program.
The program, which served about 200 children each year, was victim of budget cuts a year ago.
Funding is still a concern. That’s why the 2013 program will depend on enrollment and advance payment. In order to have a program 100 children must be registered by June 1.
The cost of the program, which is due at registration, is $10 a day for each child. Children can attend up to five days a week 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. July 8 through Aug. 2 at Ticonderoga Elementary-Middle School.
Registration information will be sent home with students at Ticonderoga Elementary-Middle School. Registration forms are also available at the Ti town clerk’s office. Questions about payments can be directed to the town clerk’s office at 585-6677.
“There is no money in the town budget for this program,” Dave Iuliano, Ti trustee, said. “We used to be able to fall back on the town for a lot of things. We can’t anymore. The town is always looking for things to cut because of the (state mandated) 2 percent tax cap. People who take advantage of programs need to help out.”
The town needs $20,000 to operate the summer program — that’s 100 children at $50 a week ($10 a day).
“If we get 100 kids the program pays for itself,” Iuliano said. “If we don’t, there’s no program. There’s no money in the budget for it.”
The summer program is crucial, Iuliano said, because by holding organized recreational and educational activities the town becomes eligible for the federal USDA breakfast and lunch program. That program provides free breakfast, lunch and snack to all children age 18 and younger in the community.
Open to children entering kindergarten to age 13, the program will offer swimming, sports, arts and crafts, games, bowling, Arts Trek and more, according to Angie MacAlpine, the program director. It will be certified by the state.
“It’ll be similar to the program we’ve had in past years,” she said. “I think it’s a real bargain for parents. Babysitting, supervised activities, breakfast and lunch for $10 a day.”
The key is the free breakfast, lunch and snack program, Iuliano said.
“This is a special, concerted effort to be a food distribution point in Ticonderoga,” he said. “We want to make certain our children have access to healthy food.”
Childhood hunger and poverty has become an issue in Ticonderoga. Nearly half the local school population qualifies for free or reduced-price lunches and almost 20 percent of Ticonderoga children live in poverty, according to the U.S. Census.
Iuliano has been working with John Bartlett of the Ti Kiwanis on the club’s “BackPack” program. That effort works closely with Ticonderoga Central Schools to send needy children from Ticonderoga Elementary School home for the weekends with backpacks filled with nutritious, shelf-stable and easily prepared foods.
“This is a way to address a serious problem in the community,” Bartlett said of the USDA free summer breakfast and lunch program. “The food program is free, but we must have a recreation program to qualify.”
Iuliano credited Mike Mascarenas of the county youth bureau with helping arrange to bring the USDA food program to Ticonderoga.
“Mike’s been an incredible asset,” Iuliano said. “He’s really helped lead us through the process.”
Bartlett suggested local civic groups, churches and individuals may like to sponsor a child in the program. If so, they can contact the town clerk’s office at 585-6677.