PORT CHESTER, N.Y. -- Port Chester students in elementary and middle school will still be able to take part in after school programs this year after the district lost $1.4 million in state funding.
The new after school program at the middle school will be run by Service Education Resources and will begin at the start of the school year. The elementary after school program will be run by the Port Chester Council for the Arts, and will begin later on in the month.
Parents will have to pay a fee for the programs, unlike previous years. Earlier this summer the programs were expected to cost around $1,200 per child, but due to new grants and moving money around, that cost has been reduced, according to Frank Fanelli, assistant superintendent of grants and personnel. The program for middle school students will cost $25 per week for the first child and $12.50 a week for each additional child. For elementary school students, the cost should be less than $1,000 per year, Fanelli said. That fee could be further reduced.
Fanelli said that community organizations have stepped up to lend their help and reduce fees, and that private individuals have approached about making donations. The Tamarack Tower Foundation is also accepting donations that will be earmarked for after-school programming and providing scholarships for students who can't afford the program.
"The bittersweetness of all of this is we're not going to be able to serve as many children as I would like to serve," Fanelli sad. "We had over 800 children in the program daily. Right now, it looks like that's going to be a diminished number, maybe 300 children overall."
The programs will offer academic enrichment as well as academic intervention services for students who may be struggling. The middle school program will include a college exploration program for eighth graders, as well as setting up paid and unpaid internships in the community. There will also be parent workshops on topics such as bullying, transitions to high school and discipline.
"I'm just so happy that we're able to continue on some level. That is a testimony to Port Chester, the school board, the teachers and our partners," Fanelli said.
One area that is lacking is at the high school, he said. He and the district are working on applying for a community school grant from the state that would provide $500,000 over three years. He said that if Port Chester receives the grant, he will earmark that money for the high school.
'It's not really all that much money, but it would make us whole again as a district," he said.