The Denison Independent School District will be donating transportation services to the city for its new summer day camp later this summer.
The district’s board of trustees voted unanimously to approve an agreement Tuesday night that would allow the district to provide transportation for Denison’s DREAM Camp without taking liability.
“We are more than happy to try to accommodate them because we feel it is good for our community and for our children too,” Assistant Superintendent Randy Reid said.
Denison city officials first announced plans for the camp in early March following an amendment to the city’s standards of care for recreation programs. City officials said the DREAM Camp stands for discover, recreation, education, adventure and memories.
“Projected to launch summer 2019, Denison DREAM campers will explore STEM activities, learn new sports, participate in creative projects, develop friendships and learn about the community,” city staff said in documents created for a March council meeting. “Denison DREAM Camp presents the perfect opportunity for youth to jump into a summer adventure and create long-lasting friendships.”
The city previously offered a week-long, half-day camp through the library and parks and recreation in recent years, but the DREAM camp will be more extensive and run for nearly a month, city officials said.
Reid said when the district was approached about the partnership, officials discovered it could not assist under district rules as the program was not directly education related. In order to participate, the board needed to approve a specialized resolution that was drafted by district attorneys.
Denison ISD also discovered through this process that it would incur more liability if the district was hired for this service. Instead, officials recommended the district donate its services. The city will in turn donate the fuel that Denison ISD uses on transportation, Reid said.
The agreement also took the liability off of the district for transportation and instead placed it on the city. Reid said he believes Denison has already signed off on the agreement.
Denison ISD Superintendent Henry Scott voiced his support of the camp and the agreement during the meeting and urged the board to approve the resolution.
“It is a positive program and a good thing to do,” he said. “Our only concern was liability and as that has been removed, I highly recommend you approve this.”
Members of the board asked where the camp would be taking place and what trips the campers might take during the two, four-week camp sessions. In an interview Wednesday afternoon, Community and Development Services Director Kimberly Murray said Denison has considered two locations, including the city’s SNAP Center. However, a community church has also offered the city access to its facilities.
Murray said the city could lower its expenses by using the SNAP Center, but said city officials have some concerns regarding competing uses. Staff has considered starting camp activities each day at the city parks to alleviate these issues.
“The SNAP Center is an adequate facility, but space is cramped in the morning with Meals on Wheels,” Murray said.
The topic of location was discussed earlier this month when the council approved the program and its associated costs. With the use of the SNAP Center, Denison officials estimated the program will cost about $66,777 compared to $56,000 in expected revenues at full capacity.
The cost of the program would increase by nearly $14,340 by using another location. Murray said the city is considering sponsorships to further reduce the cost to the city.
Murray said Denison is weighing its budget for the program and should decide on a final location soon. In addition to this, Murray said staff are also creating a schedule of weekly field trips that the campers will take. The list includes local destinations like Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge and Eisenhower State Park, but Murray did not rule out trips to the Metroplex as well.
Murray said the early response to the program has been positive and about a dozen campers have already enrolled in one of the two sessions. Denison plans to add advertising, including signs near area schools, in the coming days as a way to increase awareness, she said.
“We expect enrollment to increase once we do that,” she said.