09 January 2009

Hardin County Challenger Center to Close

This week a decision was made by our city's mayor, Sheila Enyart to close the Challenger Space Center that our city of 23,906 has operated since February of 2000. It is funded until June 2009 by the current budget. It is called the Challenger Learning Center of Hardin County but is in fact operated/owned by the city of Radcliff.
On the Hardin County Challenger page I was trying to research how many students at what ages and a budget amount for this center; I had no luck. I did learn that grades 5-9 are the primary patrons of these facilities from the national page. So lets look at the population of students of the approximate ages who would use this facility. Based on 5th graders being 10 years of age and including students up to the age of 14 for 9th should give us a reasonable estimate of potential visitors from Radcliff, KY. Age break down for Radcliff based on Census 2000 is found at this page.
  • 10 yrs old 425
  • 11 yrs old 406
  • 12 yrs old 420
  • 13 yrs old 403
  • 14 yrs old 398
  • Total 2,052

I spoke with Mr. Chance Fox, Chief Financial Officer, about the budgeted amounts the city contributed for the operation for the Challenger Center. He was rather vague and tried to avoid giving me specific amounts and told me that I could estimate the amount from the city's budget at $350,000 per year includes $190,000 bond money that has to be paid back no matter what. I insisted on knowing exact amounts and he said it would take him quite a while to get the information for me. I gave him my email address and hopefully it won't take too long for that information to get to me. I'm not holding my breath though. Anyway let's do some rough math calculations Estimated $350,000 from the city divided by number of eligible students in Radcliff eligible IAW Census 2000 that is 2,052. This ends up costing the city $170.57 per ELIGIBLE student in Radcliff. This does not mean that all these students visited this facility in one year. This is a big chunk of money for one city to put out for such a small number of residents. OK, I know, students from other towns and districts come there but remember, Radcliff pays for it! I'm going to step out on a limb here and say that a fourth of the students from Radcliff would use this facility in any one year. That means that we are paying out $682.26 for each student from Radcliff who may actually have used the center in one year.

The mission statement for this town can be broadly interpreted to possibly include anything . Let's take a look at it:

CITY OF RADCLIFF MISSION STATEMENT The City of Radcliff is dedicated to being responsive to its citizens, enhancing the quality of life for all residents by providing quality services, and promoting Radcliff as a community of vision.

I think this statement could use a little "tweaking." It is too broadbased and its interpretation can take on a different meaning depending on who is reading it. My quality of life has definitely NOT improved due to this facility and it is doubtful that it has improved the quality of life for most of the town's residents. I will post updates here if/when I get any.