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School district plans afterschool program

by | July 26, 2018 5:00 am

Last Updated: July 25, 2018 at 10:34 am

A program to give some assistance to parents who are juggling childcare and work arrives with this school year.
The Colleton County School District’s Elementary Aftercare Program begins in conjunction with the start of the new school year on Aug. 20.
Assistant School Superintendent Dr. Juliet White called on Jessica Williams, director of curriculum and instruction, to explain the project to CCSD board members during the July 17 meeting.
The new afterschool program — to be offered at Black Street Early Childhood Center and each of the school district’s five elementary schools — was an outgrowth of the survey the school district distributed when a change in the school hours was under consideration earlier in the year.
Under the altered program, dismissal at Black Street Early Childhood Center is at 1:55 p.m. and the district’s elementary schools end the day at 2:15 p.m.
A part of the survey, parents were asked if they would be in need of an affordable afterschool program.
Eighty-nine percent of those participating in the survey said yes.
The Elementary Aftercare Program, School Superintendent Dr. Franklin Foster explained, is an attempt to meet the needs of the district’s parents and children, not a money-making project.
“The primary purpose is to provide good, quality afterschool care,” Williams said.
Students attending the afterschool program will receive assistance with homework assignments and participate in technology, art and physical activities.
The students will also be provided snacks prepared by the school district’s food service operation.
The current plan is to limit the size of the program to 30 students per school.
One board member said he anticipated the district will have parental interest in excess of the limit currently placed on each school. If interest exceeds the 30-pupil limit, the district personnel will attempt to adjust the staffing levels to increase the size of the program at the affected school.
The current number is based on staffing levels, Williams explained. The district plans to hire a teacher, teacher assistant and student mentor for each school to provide a 10-to-one student to adult ratio.
Dr. Foster said no one has been hired as yet to conduct the program at each school. Now that the school board has signed off on the program, he said, word will be sent to current staff about afterschool employment opportunities.
Williams also explained that the district also reserves the right to eliminate a school from the program due to low enrollment numbers.
Williams said through work with the district’s financial office it was determined that having 25 students enrolled was the financial break-even point for the program.
The district will charge a weekly fee of $50 for one child. If a family plans to have more than one child participating, the district will charge $40 a week for each additional child.
The weekly fee will enable the parents to have their child remain at his or her school from the end of the regular school day until 6 p.m. each school day.
Williams said the afterschool program will not operate on early dismissal days.
The school district will also charge a registration fee of $25 per child.
Registration for the program will run from July 31 until Aug. 14.
Based on a question from the board about starting the registration period earlier, officials explained that the schools’ offices will not be staffed until July 31.
Registration can be handled either at the child’s school or on-line at the school district’s website.
The school district will not provide transportation from the program and parents are required to pick up their children by 6 p.m. each day.
After three late pick-ups, Williams said, the district will assess a fee to the tardy parent; after five late pickups, the child could be removed from the afterschool program.
The superintendent was asked if the district office had given consideration to implementing a program to provide financial assistance to help parents, especially those with multiple students in the program, with the cost of the afterschool program.
Dr. Foster said the immediate goal is to get the program up and running. Then, he added, district officials will be able to begin searching for grants that could help parents with the costs, as well as improve the program.

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