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After-school camp abandons contract talks with Pasco School Board

SAN ANTONIO — The Pasco School Board was supposed to have considered a contract this week to let the Coaches' Training Camp after-school program operate at San Antonio Elementary for the next year.

Instead, board member Joanne Hurley reported late Tuesday, "There is no contract."

J.J. Scaglione and Bobby Wade, physical education teachers who run the program, had walked away from negotiations with the school district. They intend to offer the camp at Darby Community Church.

The operators of the popular camp wanted stronger ties to the school than the district seemed ready to offer.

District officials "said their goal was for us to do it at the school for a year" and then leave, Scaglione explained. "I said we already have a place to do it. … I don't want to burn a bridge. We just decided it would be best for our program and the parents and the kids to plant our roots" at the church.

Parents who sent their children to the camp last year pressured the School Board to let the program remain at the school after superintendent Heather Fiorentino moved to replace it with the district's own PLACE (Pasco Learning and Activity Centers of Enrichment) program. They liked that the camp had certified teachers helping with homework and also provided organized physical activities, all without putting the children on buses.

The board rallied behind the parents and tried to arrange for the program to stay at San Antonio Elementary. It went so far as to reject the expansion of PLACE into San Antonio, to give the men a chance to make a deal to keep their camp there.

But Fiorentino made clear that in the long term she preferred to have PLACE operating the district's before and after school programs, Hurley said.

"It was apparent that there was not going to be any promise that they were going to be there after this year," Hurley said.

That was a deal-breaker.

"In our area, there's not too many places to go," Scaglione said, noting a one-year deal simply delayed the inevitable. "I don't want to end up not having anyplace to go."

Students who attend the Coaches' Training Camp will be able to ride a school bus to and from the church, about 5 miles from the school, just as children use district transportation for other child care centers. The camp will continue to have certified teachers on staff, and plans to work with the Saint Leo University teaching program to get future educators involved.

Hurley said parent and student satisfaction with the camp was evident, and she expected it to succeed now that the choice has been made to relocate permanently.

"They're offering a service that's needed," she said. "I wish them well."

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at solochek@sptimes.com or (813) 909-4614. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at blogs.tampabay.com/schools.

After-school camp abandons contract talks with Pasco School Board 07/22/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 22, 2009 8:12pm]
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