Andrew Trzaska | September 25, 2012
Open gym and a youth basketball league will be back this fall and winter in Muskegon, after Muskegon’s city commission voted to use city money to fund the program run by Muskegon Public Schools.
The school district last held the open gym and youth basketball programs in its gyms from October 22 through November 9, 2011, and from February 4 through March 10, 2012. Just shy of 50 people came per week for a total of 435 people over the course of nine weeks.
The program was previously funded by money from the city’s Leisure Services budget, and will again receive $18,500 from that portion of the budget. While last year’s program cost approximately $30,000, a big chunk of that was earned back by $25 registration fees for the basketball league plus concessions. The city’s contribution made up all but $1,600 of the total costs.
The district’s Muskegon Community Education oversees the program, though the district did bring on two individuals from the 21st Century Community Learning Center, a Department of Education program, to run the basketball program. A report from the district to the city indicated behavior referrals dropped for the students in the youth basketball program.
There are no plans in this year’s program to bring back open swim. The program trimmed that component last fall, when the numbers from 2010-2011 showed that the costs of keeping the pool open and clean for only a small bit of time was a big money loser, especially since many participants did not take advantage of the pool.
A report provided to the city by the school district shows the program is overwhelmingly used by those hit hard economically. In the youth basketball program, 83% of Muskegon Public School students who participated qualified for free lunch, and another 13% qualified for reduced lunch. In the open gym component of the program, 76% come from low-income households that qualify for reduced or free lunch. The report does qualify the data findings, saying over the past two years, it’s grown apparent that some people filling out the form either can’t understand the questions or may not want to out of embarrassment.
Dates for this year’s programs were not set by Muskegon Public Schools at the time of the vote, though they did provide a general window of October 2012 to March 2013.