Soria City tutoring program and city of Gulfport at odds

By Krystal Allan – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The Soria City Civic Organization might soon have to find another place for its after school tutoring program. The program is held at the Willie Lock Community Center off 19th Street.

"It's very devastating to me to even think that the services we give to the children in the community will not be able to continue," said Dorothy McClendon, President of Soria City Civic Organization.

The head of the Department of Leisure Services, Edmund Salloum, wrote a letter to the group. The letter said, in part, that the group had repeatedly resisted the city's attempt to implement a city-sanctioned after school program.  Therefore, the department was canceling its co-sponsorship of the program.

In essence, it means the program must move to another location or start paying rent. Group members say they doesn't understand the city's actions.

"When we talked with the city, we thought this was resolved. But, it was a breakdown in communication with the city," McClendon said.

Volunteers said they scaled back on tutoring so the city could come in on Tuesdays and Thursdays as requested. McClendon said the city could have done more to get kids to come to out on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

"I think if they had reached out and given information to the parents and sent flyers, then they would have had a successful program, but it did not take place," McClendon said.

City spokesman Ryan LaFountaine had this to say about the situation: "We are not experiencing the same issues at other places, like Gaston Point, where we have an after school program.  We want to reach an agreement and find a solution to run the program safely and smoothly.  But, if we can't reach a solution, we will take a different approach."

Though the letter states the group must pay up by the end of the week, a meeting is scheduled for Thursday afternoon at city hall to see what can be done about the situation.

Copyright 2010 WLOX. All rights reserved.