VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Three before-school programs and 11 after-school programs will no longer close in Virginia Beach after a surge in applications for open positions.
The Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation Out-of-School Time Programs (OST) said the hiring surge stemmed from a recent pay increase.
Closures of the programs would have impacted over 300 participants. On November 16 Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation announced that it was going to have to close three of its before school and 11 of its after school programs due to "severe, ongoing staffing shortages."
Pay increases were then approved to be raised and rates went from $9.50-$14.89 hourly to $15-$18.50 as of November 25 and resulted in hundreds of interested applicants, allowing the programs to be saved.
When asked where the money was coming from, Julie Braley with the Parks and Recreation Department said the city moved unused salary dollars over to childcare workers.
"For the rest of this fiscal year, it's coming out of unused salaries since we have so many open positions across the city right now," she explained. "But it will have to be accounted for in this next cycle, so when our new fiscal year starts in July it will have to be planned. We are going through that process right now."
All pay increases were approved by the City Manager.
“We are very grateful to City leadership for recognizing the urgency of this situation and approving the pay increase that ultimately allowed us to hire enough staff to save these critical programs,” said Michael Kirschman, Director of Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation. “Providing this good news to the families who were impacted is the best holiday present we could have asked for, and we are thankful to the people who have applied and come on board to join the team.”
The City of Virginia Beach said in a statement that at this time, the 19 program locations that were consolidated and relocated to nearby schools will remain as such. As staffing levels continue to improve, the goal is to return those programs to their home schools as soon as possible, but no there is no timeline as to when that might occur and could last for the duration of this school year.
"We don't want to make changes we can't sustain and have to go back and forth with parents," Braley said. "That's not fair to them. So that is why we're being conservative and are going to continue to keep them consolidated."