Funding at the crux of discussions related to Sunnyside's Promise

What should Sunnyside's Promise be doing?

That was the question discussed during a joint meeting last night, Monday, of the Sunnyside School Board, Sunnyside City Council and the Port of Sunnyside.

The answer to the question is apparently still to be determined.

Sunnyside School Superintendent Dr. Rick Cole said there needs to be a shared focus on the non-profit's role.

"It has to get clearer," Cole said of Sunnyside's Promise's direction.

From the school district's perspective, Cole said it's all about addressing issues related to gangs and the use of alcohol and drugs.

"If we're going to put more money into this it's got to be about gangs and drug and alcohol intervention," Cole said.

But the group also expressed concern about a lack of recreational activities in Sunnyside and what Sunnyside's Promise's role should be in that.

Funding for Sunnyside's Promise is at a crucial point, as at last night's meeting it was noted the non-profit needs $12,000 every month to stay solvent. Cole said the school district is even paying its $20,000 annual share early just to get Sunnyside's Promise through January 2011.

Deputy Mayor Nick Paulakis said the share paid by the city, schools and Sunnyside Community Hospital is possibly about to get bigger.

Paulakis said Sunnyside's Promise is now asking $50,000 each from the three groups. "We're talking a lot of money here," he said.

There were some who defended Sunnyside's Promise.

Sunnyside City Councilman Paul Garcia, for example, said the non-profit shouldn't be expected to turn a profit.

Another councilman, Tom Gehlen, answered concerns that Sunnyside's Promise is too top-heavy in administrative costs. He noted the agency has to seek grant funding to stay afloat. That in turn, he says, requires administration.

"Do we pay for existence or performance?" replied Councilman Don Vlieger, who raised the concern about administrative costs.

Sunnyside City Manager Mark Gervasi said for now Sunnyside's Promise needs time to come up with a plan.

He suggested each of the three groups continue the discussion in their respective chambers and then revisit the issue later.

Cole, for one, feels those future discussions need to include direction.

"Unless we have a long-term vision (for Sunnyside's Promise) we're going to be sitting here cycle after cycle," he said.


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