Sunday, January 09, 2005

to Judy Chirco - from Guy and Janet Berry

Sent: Sunday, January 09, 2005 11:25 PM
Subject: Guy and Janet Berry/ Young People's Theatre

Dear Judy:

    This is Guy and Janet Berry your previous neighbors and friends on Benjamin Ave.  We realize that we now live in District 6, but have supported you in your present office.  During the election, we and many others promoted you throughout the schools and the various activities that our children attend.  We have always felt that you cared about the children of this community and are known to be a good listener.  However,  Judy, right now multiple families are all feeling disappointed and let down in regards to the events around the fate of theYoung People's Theatre (YPT) at the Kirk Community Center.  We know this is located within your District and are pleading for your help.  We understand that this program is again being considered in the city's cuts and we're strongly requesting that it would be removed from the cutting block on the 21st of this month. We&nbs! p;also want to remind you how extremely important this program is to the community and most importantly to our son, Matt.

As for the community, the program offers the following:

1.  Many students are limited in their school schedules either by budgets or the strict educational standards, and are unable experience drama and the confidence building it does. This program helps to meet that need locally within our immediate community.

2. This program offers children another venue than sports.  Not all will excel sports and their self-esteem damaged in the process. However, there are very few programs offered outside of sports which can so positively influence a child as this program.

3.  YPT has endured previous budget cuts and parents of this program have been promised that it would not be cut. 

4.  From my understanding, YPT is self supporting.  Last year it raised approximately $77,000 to make up for previous cuts.  Registration fees and ticket sales paid for all expenses including scenery and sets, costume supplies, and staff salaries.  The city only pays for Donna Becker and Carole Ferris-Greer.  In fact the YPT even makes money for the city in that a surcharge ($8.00 and $17.00 for non-residents) from each participant puts money directly back into the city's general fund.  Therefore, it does not make sense to cut it. 

5.  This program reaches beyond the immediate families and into the community in that it has raised over $6000 for the American Breast Cancer Society as well as collected over 100,000 quality canned goods for those in need.

6.  In that a theatre was not included in the newly refurbished Camden Community Center there is no other facility set up that meets the local needs of this immediate neighborhood. 

Personally and most important to us, this program has offered our son, Matt, a place where he has built his self esteem, his leadership skills, and team building skills as well as an opportunity to confidently perform in front of others.  He has created numerous friendships with other kids through this community and beyond the bounds of his school.  As stated above, not all children excel sports such as our son.  However, FYP has been the first program of quality that has allowed him to grow in his interest of acting.  Carole has been tremendous with him as well as numerous kids. It has given him tremendous confidence and an irreplaceable joy.  It has taught him how to work hard and to be discipled while building lasting relationships and having fun.  Our son has found his self worth in this program and is devestated over the possibility of the program not continuing.  It is one place that we feel that our tax dollars are being used wisely. 

 We know that there are plans for the facility, but for the children of this community there has got to be some compromise and some rememberance of past promises.  We often get remarks back about police and fire but I know that keeping this program will not effect safety.  In fact, it will keep more kids off the streets.

We appreciated you time in reading this letter and would greatly appreciate a response from yourself Judy.  One of us may be calling  in a couple days and our son Matt would like to personally speak with you if possible.    We look forward to your response.

Guy and Janet Berry 
1760 Maykirk Ct
San Jose, CA   95124

Judy Chirco's response:
Dear Guy and Janet,

Thank you for sharing your concerns regarding the Young People’s Theater program with me. 

The City of San Jose is in a very difficult budget situation this year, as are our schools, and the State.  Because of this, every City Department has been asked to submit at least a 20% reduction to their budget.  As I’m sure you will understand, this amount of budget reduction cannot be accomplished without being felt by all programs.  The Department of Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services has to look at all the programs they fund in order to make this budget reduction.  The Young People’s Theater program, along with other programs, will certainly be affected.

I have attended, and enjoyed, many of the YPT’s productions.  I think this is a wonderful program and offers much to our children.  I want to assure you that I, along with the PRNS staff, fully understand and agree that there must be programs for the creative child, as well as sports programs for the athletic child, and other programs for children with other interests. 

The challenge we face is to be able to offer this variety of programs in this severe budget time.  And in order to do this, it is necessary to take a strong look at our existing programs and see how we can offer something for everyone with less money.  I am strongly in support of maintaining some kind of performing arts program at Kirk Community Center.  However, at this time I cannot say what the format of that program will be.

As we enter what will be a very difficult budget setting time, I want to assure you that I will keep your comments in mind. 




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