Disputes OASIS figures

Dear Editor:After several articles discussing the future of the OASIS program, I find it perplexing that I was never contacted for any input. Even though your paper found it suitable to publish my picture with the latest article. ("Senior Program Too Costly to Save," 8/26/10) Since I was responsible for the program for 35 years, I feel it is time for me to set the record straight. The first point that is incorrect is the assumption that I retired. I was planning on teaching for a couple more years until I was informed that the OASIS program was being cancelled. The school district was making cuts and we were part of that decision. It was also misleading to imply that the program had cost the district money. This program had generated money for the district for 34 years. It wasn't until the State of California cut funds for ADA (the allotment for daily attendance) two years ago that we actually became an expense to the district. Now with regards to the cost of the food, again the information is incorrect and misleading. For years the food was provided through Arc and their training program at a minimal cost. When the Arc program changed, the Adult School staff prepared the food. When that program was cancelled we investigated our options and found that local restaurants were eager to provide meals. We called this "The Taste of Downey." Unlike your claim, the meals cost $4.50 not $8.50. The most important detail you left out of your article is the fact that the students paid $5 each week for their meal. It wasn't free as implied. We also understand that in the inflated figure of $65,000 projected cost to continue the program, $40,000 of that was budgeted for food. This is not accurate! We consistently had over 200 people enrolled in OASIS and the average weekly attendance was 100. The reason for this is that there is no comparable program available to our senior population. I feel it was disingenuous that in the article covering the farewell class, it was reported that staff writer Henry Veneracion spoke to a couple of women quoting them as saying "they won't miss OASIS because there are many programs available". Nothing could be further from the truth. In closing, I receive numerous calls weekly asking for updates on the future of OASIS. Unfortunately I have no information to pass on. I can only tell them that the city is discussing the options. I haven't been contacted by the city and the information in the paper is incorrect. I must say lately the calls have included outrage over the fact that the city will spend $35,000 on a dog park but not on their senior taxpayers. I assume the argument is that it is a one-time expense with minimal cost to keep it open. What will the minimal cost be to settle the first lawsuit after a child is bitten or a dog is attacked? What is the cost of the insurance premiums for this project or for personnel to enforce the rules? It is my hope that the city will get the correct facts and find a way to provide this important program once again. -- Harriett Paine, Downey

********** Published: September 9, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 21