Lafayette Spanish program threatened by proposed rent

Some local parents are concerned if some before-school classes will be able to keep going. They’re held at the Lafayette Elementary School in the District, but the city is now asking those parents to pay a hefty rent to use the school.

For 14 years, children have been able to take early morning Spanish classes at the school. The program was founded by and still run by parents, like Claudia Tassara. All of her daughters have been in the program. Her youngest, Isabella, who is now in the third grade, is currently enrolled.

“It gives them a good foundation,” says Tassara. “I think it opens doors. You know knowing another language always opens doors.”

Now she and other parents fear the program may cease to exist because they’re being asked to pay for the space they use at the school, something they had never done before.

"It came as a surprise to us. It's just something we can't afford,” says Tassara.

$1,000 a month for rent would put them out of business because they say money they charge is used to pay for teachers and materials. They just don’t understand why this is happening now and would hate to see the program disappear.

“It’d be very disappointing,” says Tassara. “I really depend on the Spanish program to continue teaching Spanish to my child.”

Principal Lynn Main shows ABC7 the list of non-school affiliated programs taking place on her campus. In the last few years, she says, requests from outside entities to host programs on campus have jumped significantly. That’s part of a reason she feels she has to enforce a city requirement that all outside entities apply and pay for the space they use.

“It guarantees the school system that it’s a reputable group that is coming into the school and it also protects me from having personal liability is anything happens when a child is hurt or injured,” says Main.

She says parents shouldn’t forget that at the end of the day, it’s about kids and their safety.

“To me it’s a precaution on the parents’ side, too, to make sure that I’m not letting people into the school building who really have no business being here working with children,” says Main.

Principal Main says she didn’t do this to drive the program away. She thinks it’s a good program.

A possible resolution: ABC7 hears the city is working with the school. They have re-measured the space that this group was using in hopes of decreasing the rent.