EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 10, 2013

$335K brings extra school time for students

State pays for before- and after-school programs with grants

By Shawn Regan

---- — HAVERHILL — Tilton and Golden Hill elementary schools will offer before- and after-school programs to help struggling students.

The programs, now operating at Consentino School, will be replicated at the other two schools thanks to $335,000 from the state.

State Rep. Brian Dempsey, D-Haverhill, said Haverhill has been awarded the state grant to continue “learning center programs” at Consentino and create new ones at Tilton and Golden Hill elementary schools.

The 2013 federally-funded Massachusetts 21st Century Community Learning Centers grants are designed to support additional learning time for students in kindergarten to grade 12 before and after school and during the summer, according to a press release on the awards.

Superintendent James Scully said the district received a smaller but similar grant this year to pay for before- and after-school programs at Consentino. He said the programs are for 45 minutes before classes begin in the morning and also at 2:45 in the afternoon, after regular classes end.

The afternoon program is much more heavily used, he said.

The after-school program consists of an hour of homework and then a project or activity that expands on math, science, English or social studies skills students learned during the regular school day, Assistant Superintendent Mary Malone said. For a science project, for instance, students might learn to build a small rocket, she said.

The grant will also help pay for school bus transportation home for students, Scully said.

“We are incredibly grateful for Rep. Dempsey and the state for this money,” Scully said. “We view these program as critical for these students.”

The superintendent said just this week a mother of a students with a physical disability told him how well her daughter was doing at Consentino’s after-school program.

“She said her daughter was doing activities that were improving her motor skills, that she wasn’t able to do in the regular school day,” Scully said.

The superintendent said the elementary school program is designed to get students ready for high school, while the elementary school programs are geared toward preparing students for middle school.

He also said the district is reviewing existing before- and after-school programs to make sure they are delivering for students like they are supposed to.

“We want to show that they are delivering a bang for the buck, as they are intended,” he said.

Across the state, 22 communities received the learning centers grants to pay for programs at 44 schools and organizations, Dempsey said.

“These programs provide mentoring, peer support, training, and technical assistance and for learning labs,” according to the press release on the grants. “Collectively, these programs will support 448 hours of additional learning time in grades K-12 with academic enrichment opportunities along with other activities designed to complement the students’ school-day program.”

“Out-of-school hours programs are an important tool in the ongoing effort to provide quality education to Haverhill’s students,” said Dempsey, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. “I am proud that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education recognized the excellence of the Haverhill program and has provided this grant to expand on its success.”