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Archive for Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Bert Nash center not ready to wrap up WRAP program

Funding sought to continue work in schools

June 30, 2009

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Even though funding prospects appear to be reduced, a program that puts social workers in Lawrence secondary schools might be able to survive in some capacity.

“It’s a little hard to turn our back on that kind of need,” said David Johnson, CEO of Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center.

For more than a decade, Bert Nash has run the WRAP program, or Working to Recognize Alternative Possibilities. However, the possibility of continuing in the fall appeared grim when the Lawrence school board in April cut $250,000 from its 2009-2010 budget to cover reductions in state funding.

WRAP survived last school year with workers at the junior high schools and Lawrence’s two high schools being paid with school district funds, about $225,000 from Douglas County and $21,000 from the Juvenile Justice Authority.

Even though WRAP has no commitment for school district funds, county commissioners have about $250,000 included in the 2010 budget, meaning Bert Nash could operate at least a smaller version of WRAP in Lawrence schools.

But Johnson was hesitant Monday to outline specifics because that option would require staff layoffs.

“Really, that decision’s completely up in the air,” he said.

Bert Nash leaders also don’t believe they have exhausted all of their avenues for Lawrence school district funding because three new school board members take office and new Superintendent Rick Doll joins the district in July.

“We ought to at least have a discussion with that group,” Johnson said.

But that might be a long shot because Gov. Mark Parkinson said Monday that more state budget cuts were coming. Bert Nash leaders are also looking at private fundraising to make the agency less susceptible to state and local government cuts.

The county funding decision this year will not affect WRAP in Eudora schools, after the district there received a Safe Students, Healthy Schools four-year grant.

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