Baldwin High School Principal Joe Gresnick is one of several supporters of a countywide program aimed at keeping at-risk youths in school.
"I think it's a real good program, and we'd like to see it continue," Gresnick told Douglas County commissioners Monday as they began budget hearings that continue today.
Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center's WRAP (Working to Recognize Alternative Possibilities) program provides social workers to the county's junior high and high schools. The workers identify students headed for trouble, intervene and try to keep them in school and away from police and courts.
At budget hearings Monday, officials from the 3-year-old program requested $32,000 from Douglas County. The county's share would represent about 9 percent of the program's proposed $372,000 budget for 2001.
In the past, said John Kriss, a WRAP social worker, the program has been funded mostly through grants. The state's Juvenile Justice Authority contributed more than $80,000 the first two years but nothing this year.
The Kansas State Department of Education last week renewed its grant for $60,000, which is 16 percent of the program's budget.
WRAP officials still are waiting to hear about a possible federal grant.
"That federal effort hasn't proved fruitful for us," Kriss said.
Kriss said WRAP also has requested $140,000 from the Lawrence school district, which would make it the program's largest contributor, if the request is granted. The district put $23,000 into the program this year. The Lawrence school board will discuss the request at its June 26 meeting.
WRAP at Lawrence High School has been a success, Kriss said. During the 1998-99 school year, 85 percent of WRAP students had no suspensions or discipline referrals.
"It would probably be better if we had a local sustained effort to keep WRAP going," he said.
County Administrator Craig Weinaug has recommended approval of Bert Nash's request for WRAP and $460,000 for the center.
Commissioners meet at 8:30 a.m. today for budget hearings with county departments.