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June 17--  A request to renew federal funding for a local after-school program for at risk kids has been denied.

For the last eight years in the Toombs County school system and the last five years in Vidalia city schools, Toombs County Family Connection has administered a $3.5 million 21st Century Learning Center grant which provided after-school and summer activities for 300 kids.

Toombs County Family Connection Director Paige Williamson says the grant will be reapplied for in November, but in the meantime, "The plan now for each of the school systems is to sustain the program for the next year by operating on a bare bones budget.  We are actively talking with our churches and with individuals and partners in the community and we've also written for a couple of grants.  The schools are also willing to help us somewhat to sustain the program for a year."

Toombs County School Superintendent Barry Waller reports the Toombs County school board has given him authority to allocate up to $75,000 for the one year effort.

In Vidalia, School Superintendent Dr. Garrett Wilcox says the Vidalia board is also supportive and will come up with a number to help sustain the program.

"What we have created and the culture we have created in our after-school programs for the last eight and five years is really remarkable.  It's something we've invested heavily in and the thought of losing that for even a year is really devastating," Williamson said.

For information on how you can help with the bare bones budget for a year, call Paige at 245-2542.