By Julie Wootton
The planned successor to a Twin Falls learning center for struggling students has been scrapped due to a lack of funding.
Earlier this year, the Southern Idaho Learning Center announced it would close its doors at the end of the year due to dwindling funds. SILC Executive Director Dori Madsen said the organization is in the process of closing down and figuring out what to do with its remaining assets.
“It’s been really hard,” Madsen said, adding that she’s been receiving phone calls from parents asking what their children are going to do without the services.
The organization, which was created about 20 years ago, will close Dec. 31.
Madsen said she had hoped to continue offering similar services under a new nonprofit organization — the Southern Idaho STAR Center. But organizers now say they won’t be able make their goal of raising $100,000 by Dec. 1.
“We just didn’t get enough support,” she said.
The current center is located in a rent-free Twin Falls County-owned building on Shoup Avenue. The county is planning to close down the building by the end of the year to potentially sell it in the future.
The center’s parent organization, The Scottish Rite Foundation, used to provide about 4 percent of the SILC budget. However, Madsen said the center stopped receiving that money on a regular basis. As a result, the Southern Idaho Learning Foundation was formed in 2008 to provide a more sustainable funding source. However, Madsen said the foundation wasn’t providing enough money for operating costs.
Earlier this year, SILC board members decided to close the organization under its current name and break ties with the foundation. Foundation leaders have announced that they will carry on their support of local education efforts by focusing on a wider range of organizations, including Wings Charter School and the Boys and Girls Club of Magic Valley.
SILC provides services to school-aged children who suffer from learning disabilities or fall behind in other educational settings. Last year, more than 1,200 students came through the center’s doors.
Twin Falls School District Superintendent Wiley Dobbs said the center has provided additional help to many Twin Falls students.
“That’s a resource that we’ve relied upon that will no longer be there,” he said.
Dobbs said the center’s afterschool options allow students to receive help with what they’ve learned during the school day.
“Sometimes, that just clicks for kids,” he said.
In order to fill the gaps, a team of school district employees is preparing to apply for a federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant in order to offer more afterschool programs at schools with a high percentage of students living in poverty.
The district has received the grant in the past and currently provides programs at Lincoln and Perrine elementary schools.