Afterschool Program May Not Continue Next School Year

By: Estephany Escobar Email
By: Estephany Escobar Email

HARRISONBURG, Va.--- An after school program may not continue next school year if it does not get funding.

Federal grants pay for "Beyond the Bell," but the money will run out at the end of this school year.

Several parents and students asked the school board to pay $300,000 at two school board meetings. The money would fund the program to run at Thomas Harrison and Skyline Middle schools.

Dora Yates is one of 120 students who does her homework and other activities at "Beyond the Bell."

"I really don't think they should take beyond the bell away because it really helps kids with their grades and it helps them improve with their scores," said Dora.

Pam Yates, Dora's mother, said her daughter finishes her homework at "Beyond the Bell." This gives her more time to do other activities when she returns home.

"I think she has met her daily goals, much more consistently because of that," said Pam.

However, the school board has not included money for the program in next year's budget so far.

"We will fund after school programs through our current budget, but there is no intention to pick up a federal grant," said Harrisonburg City Public Schools superintendent Dr. Scott Kizner.

Even though, Beyond the Bell is not in the budget so far, other after school programs are.

In a statement, the school board said for the past two years, it has budgeted nearly $400,000 to support after school programs and will continue to do so.

According to Kizner, the school board faces challenges for next year's budget. He said the board asked him to cut the budget even further due to health insurance costs.

"The school board is potentially adopting a budget that goes up $3 million. We are asking the city for $1.4 to $1.5 million additional dollars than they gave us this year," said Kizner.

He said in order to increase spending on some areas, the board would have to make some cuts.

Kizner also plans to start a new after school program, modeled after " Beyond the Bell." He plans to meet with community leaders to create a program that would serve more children while having lower administrative costs. In addition, he said high school students would help students in the program.

"We have a responsibility to our community to not only have high quality programs, but to do it in a cost efficient way," said Kizner.

"I don't know what that program would be. There is a big learning curve with an organization when you try to do something new rather than improve something that you already have," said Pam.

The Harrisonburg City Public School's budget has not been finalized.


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