My name is Joanna McVay and I have owned and operated Joanna’s Kids “R” It for 37 yrs, providing ballet, tap, & jazz dance programs, as well as floor gymnastics. The Rio Linda Elverta Recreation and Parks District (RLERPD) has contracted with me since 1986, and we have enjoyed a productive working relationship for the benefit of the community, since that time.
Covid, as with many crises, brought out the best and worst in our society, and that is true of Park & Recreation Districts. Pre Covid I was contracted with 3 Districts primarily, and consistently, but over the decades I have contracted with almost all Districts within Sacramento County, at one time or another…& have a lot to compare from one Recreation & Park district to another.
While I have always enjoyed working with the RLERPD, there was a situation prior to the Holidays in particular, that emphasizes their commitment to providing for their residents, above and beyond any norms out there, which prompted me to do a project with my students and their families, in Rio Linda, to recognize their support, and thank them.
When Districts contract with businesses like mine, to provide programs they do not provide “in-house”, the District receives a percentage of revenue, generated by the program, in exchange for use of the facility, and advertising in District program guides/websites. This arrangement generally results in programs being less expensive, for District residents, than in the public sector.
After being shut down for 14 months, due to Covid, RLERPD and I started conversations about starting up programs again, with the anticipation of the re-opening on June 15th, 2021. I asked for RLERPD to receive less in their commission, for a period of 6 months, while I attempted to rebuild, which they graciously agreed to. Everyone took a financial hit with the pandemic, including Recreation & Park Districts, so I was incredibly grateful.
In November, we realized there was a facility use conflict with the building, as it was needed for the District’s annual Christmas event, on 12/11. Since my students were already going to miss classes, due to the Holidays, I asked if RLERPD could possibly relocate my 4 hours, of Saturday gymnastics classes, to a different location. It used to be commonplace for TRUSD, and Recreation Districts to share facilities, as needed, in kind, so I didn’t think much of it.
RLERPD notified me that they had secured an alternate location for the day in question. The week prior to our use, to ensure that I had documentation of the use being approved, should it be questioned, RLERPD sent me a copy of the use permit.
It wasn’t until the day of use, on 12/11 that I actually took a good look at the permit, & was absolutely shocked when I realized that RLERPD had been required to PAY FOR MY USE/relocation. In addition, the amount charged to the District was more than they would receive from the commission from my programs that month. Later, I helped RLERPD in having the bill reduced because services were not provided, but that is/was not the point.
RLERPD CARED about the kids being able to have classes that Saturday, and CARED that parents received a maximum of classes that they’d paid for! RLERPD CARED about the kids enrolled in the program, and their families, FIRST!
In 37 yrs, I have never experienced this kind of commitment to the public, by a Recreation & Park District. And while incredibly grateful, I also felt bad, for it was never my intent that the District pays for relocating me.
So, I explained to my customers what had happened, and all of the families enrolled in my dance & gymnastics programs at the RLERPD, got together over 2 days, and decorated large sheets of butcher paper with photos, and notes of thanks. We placed the poster board in the windows at the front of the community center, on our last day of class before Xmas, the idea being that RLERPD staff would see it, as they entered the center when they returned from their Holiday break.
All too often folks take things for granted, and the residents of RLERPD should know that their District is the cream of the crop, and a true gold standard, in a taxpayer-supported organization, actually doing everything they can to BEST serve their residents, as opposed to money, policy, and procedures.
There are several Districts that are now demanding 30-40% with a “take it or leave it” approach, that I cannot, and will not contract with, in this post-Covid world, of having to rebuild what I have lost. The result is, for these Districts, their residents are not being provided quality programs at affordable prices, while the Districts receive 30%-40% of NOTHING = ZERO.
RLERPD is willing to negotiate, compromise, work outside the box, and even sacrifice in order to rebuild programming and provide for their residents, and they should be recognized for it, in my opinion.