A letter from Sensei Mark to parents of current students:
In spite of this administrations stated commitment to the children of this city, the Fitness division of the Parks and Recreation Department has chosen to cancel programming for kids, such as the Karate program available at the Eisenhower, Harvey Park and Athmar Recreation Centers, and the Karate program at Southwest Recreation Center, in favor of rental programs, referred to as "Program Partners", which will necessarily raise student costs making it difficult, if not impossible, for lower income residents to take part in these programs, effectively denying the lower income families the options and opportunities afforded to higher income families within the Parks and Recreation system.
"Program Partners", as I have been told thus far, would not be employed by the city, would be required to rent the rooms, provide their own insurance, be licensed by the city and state, or have 5Olc3 status, provide their own materials and supplies, and handle all of their own marketing, taxes, etc.
In my case, to continue the classes I currently offer, I would need to more than double the current rates in order to simply pay for the room rental, insurance, licenses, taxes, materials and supplies, and marketing. Unfortunately, even at that rate it would not provide any personal compensation for my time or the gas needed to travel to the various centers I currently work at. This would make it considerably difficult for me and my family as well as making it very difficult for lower income households to provide this opportunity to their children. Many of these lower income students are currently allowed to take part in these classes thanks to a “scholarship program” that the city provides, which allows discounted rates for people in certain financial situations. If this “Program Partner” plan is implemented, the rental costs of the room alone would prevent the instructors from offering these discounts, effectively denying these lower income households the same opportunity as the higher income participants. Should not the purpose of “Public Services” be to provide programs with equal access?
Current rates are $40.00 per nine week session (approximately $20.00 per month, this is the non-scholarshiped, resident child rate; lower income families who receive a city scholarship pay less than that amount.)
The rooms we use rent at a rate of $27.00 per hour. To continue my current classes, at 12 hours per week, 48 hours a month @ $27.00 per hour = $1296.00 per month, or $15,552.00 per year. That is just the rental of the room and does not include the cost of insurance, licenses, taxes, materials and supplies and marketing. Based on my past experience in owning a Martial Arts school, adding the additional expenses, it would cost over $20,000.00 per year just to cover the expenses!
I average 40 students per session. 40 students at $40.00 per month (double the current rate, and unable to offer discounts) = $1600 per month
$1600 ($40 x 40 students)
- $1296 (rental of rooms only)
$304 per month before all other expenses are paid
At double the current rate, that leaves just $304 per month, after paying to rent the room, to cover all other expenses; insurance, licenses, materials, equipment and supplies, marketing the program, etc. I can’t make the program work with just $304 per month to cover all other expenses. And that is also before any personal expenses such as taxes and social security, gas to travel to and from the various centers!
Currently, there are only two instructors that will be impacted by this; myself, and Sensei Patrick O’Brien who teaches at Southwest Recreation Center, neither one of us will be able to continue offering these programs without raising the cost so dramatically that the fees would prohibit many of our current students, as well as future students from enjoying the benefits of the popular, on-going and long term Karate programs. A third instructor Sensei Joseph Montalvo, was hired just last year to teach at Harvard Gulch. He has already canceled his classes due to this proposal. Because his classes were so new, he had yet to fully develop them, and felt it unfair to start these brand new students in a program that would not continue.
These are not new programs. I have been teaching my program at the centers for fifteen years, Sensei O’Brien has taught his program at Southwest for eighteen years! In addition to newer students that continue to sign up, some people even put their names on waiting lists because the classes are often full to capacity, each of us have students that have been a part of these programs for over ten years, some of these students have spent most of their lives training in these classes as currently offered by the city. No other program offers that type of longevity, no other program fulfills the Mayor’s commitment to “programs designed to ensure that Denver kids are healthy, safe and engaged” in the way that these Karate programs do, particularly in the area of safety! This change in policy will effectively kill these programs.
This class has been offered for the last 15 years at Eisenhower, Harvey Park and Athmar Recreation Centers, and 18 years at Southwest Recreation Center. There is clearly an obvious demand from the community seeing as the classes are filled to max capacity every session plus a waiting list of kids who want to participate yet can't due to class size restrictions.