Byline: MARY KELLI PALKA
Belt-tightening provided the final reason to close a city-subsidized learning center, but it was a series of behind-the-scenes issues and the urging of several political powerhouses -- including its biggest benefactor -- that sealed the decision.
Beyond questions raised during the past year by city auditors about hiring and other practices by administrators at the Don Brewer Early Learning Center, there were philosophical differences in the center's direction.
The center was intended to be a place for early learning, research and development -- a place where child-care providers throughout the city could go to get innovative ideas to help the children in their care. It was intended to be a place where new curriculum could be tested in the most ideal of situations.
It was never intended to be primarily a child-care center, because an $850,000 city subsidy would make it a costly initiative to educate fewer than 100 children and practically impossible to replicate in private or non-profit centers.
That's according to Howard Korman, who headed the Jacksonville Children's Commission at the time of the center's creation during Mayor John Delaney's administration. Korman is now chairman of the Jacksonville Early Learning Partnership, of which the Brewer Center is a member.
After at least a year of questions by auditors and attempts to add more oversight to the board, …