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GECAC scrambles to find funds to cover tutoring benefiting many MUSD students
GECAC NILE GARDEN1 8-5-16 copy
GECAC site coordinator Scott Davis helps students in the enrichment class at the Nile Garden After School Advantage program. - photo by HIME ROMERO/ The Bulletin

Manteca Unified educators — from teachers all the way up to the district superintendent — are strong supporters of Give Every Child a Chance.
The reason is simple. The non-profit tutoring program works. GECAC has been an effective community partner with helping educate academically struggling youth for more than 15 years. That is done through one-on-one mentoring, small group tutoring, and the After School Advantage Programs in Manteca, Lathrop, Ripon, French Camp, Tracy, and Banta.
An independent performance auditing firm going over testing results has indicated GECAC successfully raised the grade level performance of 8 in every 10 students it tutors by at least one grade level in critical areas such as math, reading, and English skills.
The federal Department of Education holds up GECAC as one of the nation’s most effective and successful tutoring programs.
But despite all of that, GECAC is under fire.
Given that by far most of its employees make minimum wage or a few dollars above, the non-profit is struggling to trim costs given the State of California isn’t increasing funding and community donations are relatively flat. The reason is simple. The non-profit struggled to meet the new $10 minimum wage that went into effect Jan. 1, 2016, up from $9.
That has challenged GECAC to try and figure how to maintain services for  the same amount of students with increased costs and no increased income.
To keep the budget balanced they had to close down the After School Advantage Program at El Portal School in Escalon. They almost had to do the same thing to the Ripon ASAP site but Ripon Unified — well aware of the significant positive impact on the learning of students that participate in the program — stepped up and helped plug the funding gap.
Even so, GECAC has had to restructure parts of its enrichment activities that it offers ASAP students. Programs such as Artist in Residence, Dance and Cheer Stars, and Tai Kwon Do have been dropped to save money. Students are now provided with enrichment activites that rely on reusable resources provided by existing staff.
Two even bigger financial challenges lie ahead for GECAC. California law is taking the minimum wage up to $15 an hour by 2022. That represents a 50 percent increase in six years.
The new rules for paid sick leave benefits imposed by the state are also posing a financial challenge.
GECAC Chief Executive Officer Carol Davis said the organization is looking at ways to reducing costs.
Manteca Unified Superintendent Jason Messer noted the district contracting with GECAC to provide core components of academics, physical education, and enrichment in three-hour after school programs at a minimal cost to parents has been an effective partnership.
Messer in the past has noted, “What makes GECAC work is there is a high level of trust that teachers have” in the non-profit organization.
By that he means teachers know the organization trains volunteers and enhances what takes place in the classroom through close collaboration with schools.
The state grant requirements that GECAC operates under require a student to staff ratio not to exceed 20 to 1. That is in addition to the more intense one-on-one tutoring that is funded by local donations and uses volunteer tutors.
The annual Tip-a-Firefighter event at the Manteca Applebee’s on Tuesday, Aug. 23, from 5 to 9 p.m. at the East Yosemite Avenue location will help fund GECAC endeavors. A portion of the tips left for the evening will be donated to the non-profit.

 Impact of new
minimum pay
ultimately will
increase budget
by 40 percent
Based on $1 an hour pay increases given after the $10 wage went into effect four months ago, the push to $15 an hour would increase wage costs for the tutoring and mentoring program by $1 million annually at full implementation or the equivalent of 40 percent of the  current GECAC budget.
At the same time private sector grant sources — largely businesses that are also are being hit with the new minimum wage laws — are warning they may have less money to distribute to small profits due to rising payroll costs.
The $20 a month fee GECAC was forced to institute last school year only applies to the After School Advantage Program and not any other endeavors such as one-on-one tutoring.
Federal grants that have been paying for the ASAP program provided $5 per student for a year in 2000. That jumped to $7.50 per student tin 2006. It hasn’t increased since. The federal government established funding for non-profits to offer such programs as a low cost alternative to public schools as well as a way to engage communities into the education of children.
Minimum wage from 2000 to 2006 went up a $1 an hour with no increase from the federal government. Since 2006 it has gone up $3.25 per hour with no additional federal money.

Pressure on to pay
more than minimum wage
to keep positions filled
GECAC has found they have to pay above minimum wage in order to keep qualified workers. Often, though, they will lose them when full-time positions come up or other part-time jobs that pays significantly more per hour.
The non-profit has seen their workers over the years snapped up by the school district, city and private employers to make as much as $2 to $4 more an hour than what they were being paid. Many employers considered those who have worked with GECAC to be solid candidates for their vacancies and consider the fact they worked for the non-profit a plus.
The monthly $20 GECAC fee of $20 is waived for those who can verify it would be a burden.
Those that want to qualify for no fees or reduced fees need to provide GECAC with tax return statements.  The reduced and free prices reflect the same scale used by Manteca Unified for free and reduced meals.
As an example, if there are three people in the household and income is under $20,160 a year no fee is charged, of it is under $26,813 a $5 a month fee is charged, if it is under $30,240 a $10 a month fee is charged, and if it is under $40,320 a $15 a month fee is charged.
There is a $20 discount if the fee for the school year from August through June is paid at one time ($180). There is also a $50 cap per family. None of the ASAP fees are pro-rated for partial months or if youth start after the first of the month.
ASAP programs go from the end of school to 6:30 p.m.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email