Parks and Rec classes may merge with Community Ed

Entities have been working toward a ‘one-stop shopping,’ agreement

Two entities that currently offer community education classes may be combining their efforts in January.

Camas Parks and Recreation and Camas Community Education have been discussing the possibility of consolidating their classes, and are working toward an agreement.

“There were periodic discussions after the January 2015 planning conference, when the School Board and City Council directed staff to consolidate the two programs, but initially both organizations wanted to retain the recreation program,” said Pete Capell, city administrator. “It was only recently that it was agreed that it would be best served by the school district.”

If approved, Camas Community Education will absorb the current Parks and Recreation class offerings, and phase out duplicate programs or those without much attendance.

Tammy Connolly, who currently works as the Parks and Recreation programs coordinator, will serve in a new position of city volunteer coordinator.

“The intent is to have a clearinghouse for all volunteer activities in the city, not just parks,” Capell said. “We will install software to track volunteer hours and allow people to sign up for various volunteer opportunities.”

The coordinator will recruit volunteers, match projects with peoples’ skills and interests, and provide training.

“We are still working on the transition, so I do not have a specific timeline for the change,” Capell explained. “I anticipate [Connolly] will be working on both programs for a while.”

He noted that consolidation of the programs will eliminate confusion when people sign up for classes, as some are currently offered by the School District and others by Parks and Recreation.

“This will be a more efficient model to deliver the services,” he said. “The School District will have more programs to offer, thus potentially making the program more cost effective. Our hope is that we are able to supplement our staff with volunteers to complete projects and activities that we are currently unable to do. I believe it will be financially neutral for both organizations.”

Mary Weishaar, CCE director, echoed those sentiments.

“I really hope we can create ‘one-stop shopping’ for people to go to for classes,” she said. “We offer a lot of the same classes in the same facilities. It’s going to be a win-win for the community. No one is taking over anything, we are just consolidating. There are few fun things that Parks and Rec offered that we haven’t done yet.”

Seasonal employees who run summer camps for the city of Camas will now need to apply for these positions through the school district. Classes will likely be held in Camas School District facilities.

“This is something we all thought we could do better,” said Mayor Scott Higgins at an Oct. 17 City Council work session. “I made my first pitch on this several years ago, and it didn’t go fast at first. This really looks to be a better product for our community and I am excited.”

The Camas School Board will discuss the potential merger at its 5:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 14 meeting, held in the Zellerbach Administration Building, 841 N.E. 22nd Ave. A time has not been set for the City Council to discuss the issue.

“If it does not require a budget revision, the City Council may not have to take a formal action on the proposal,” Capell said.