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Jaffrey-rindge school district

Money sought for after-school program

$10K would start revolving fund to support alternatives for students in grades K-8

RINDGE — At their meeting on March 3, Jaffrey-Rindge Cooperative School Board Chair Dan Whitney and Superintendent James O’Neill said that Article 7 on the warrant, to create an Extended Day Revolving Fund, will be important for the district in coming years, when the district will be looking for an alternative source of money for the Extended Day after-school program.

The program offers students after opportunities to participate in planned activities and help with homework and projects for students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Right now Extended Day is funded entirely by a single five-year grant, set to expire in 2016. Now, three years into the program, Director Kathleen Batchelder and the School Board are looking for alternative funding options.

The program started three years ago after residents of Jaffrey, business owners, and the town librarian, prompted by loitering children after schools let out, met to discuss ways to address the issue.

Having the program is important to many of the students and their parents, said Batchelder. Many students don’t have anywhere to go when school lets out because their parents are working.

At the School Board meeting Whitney attributed the success of student standardized test scores to the Extended Day program. According to Batchelder the program focuses on helping students with their homework and school projects and staying in line with the Common Core State Standards, which were adopted by New Hampshire in 2010.

Article 7 calls for voters to approve $10,000 to start the revolving fund, which would also be supported by fundraising, fees and other contributions.

Batchelder said creating the fund will allow the program to keep the money it doesn’t spend in a fiscal year and use it for the next year. Right now though any money left over reverts to the general fund. The program’s only source of money is The 21st Century Community Learning Center Grant, a five year grant given by New Hampshire’s Department of Education. According to Suzanne Birdsall-Stone, the NH Department of Education Coordinator for the grant, the Jaffrey-Rindge program received $314,292 for the 2013-14 school year.

Batchelder said if another grant or source of money isn’t found, the program will not be sustainable in the future.

According to Bathcelder the 21st Century Grant will be reduced by about 35 percent next year, per the grant’s design.

In a phone interview, O’Neill said that if the district’s budget of $26,019,402 is not approved and the district has to adjust to the default budget of 25,541,923, he isn’t sure how the difference will be made up. He said some district staffing positions could be jeopardized.

According to Batchelder, since the grant is the only source of funding right now and Extended Day is not included in that budget, the program will not be impacted.

The program is now a collaboration between the Rindge Recreation Department and the School District, a partnership that Batchelder says is working out.

“We talk back and forth a lot of the time and run many of the same programs,” said Batchelder. According to Batchelder, incorporating the Recreation Department, which already had an established after-school program when Extended Day started, instead of hiring an additional site coordinator, saves the program money. Some of the grant money is being used to help fund the Rec. Department.

“If the grant is lost, I’m not sure that the program will be able to raise enough money to keep the program viable,” said Batchelder. “We have to see if the warrant passes, then figure out how to raise money if it doesn’t.”

She added that if the article doesn’t pass, the district might have to charge a weekly fee to parents on a sliding scale, based on their income and socioeconomic status.

Hayden James can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228 or hjames@ledgertranscript.com.

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