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After-school program eyes district for loan

EDP program to implement fees in 2016-2017

  • Jaffrey student Trevor Pierce quoted Muhammad Ali when explaining the importance of the Extended Day Program. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • Jaffrey-Rindge School Board Vice Chair Charlie Eicher said he was interested in keeping the Extended Day Program in the school district, but questioned how it would be funded.  Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • Matthew Nevers was one of many who spoke during the public comment section about the importance of the Extended Day Program to local parents and students.  Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • Program Director Kathy Batchelder presented her proposal to the Jaffrey-Rindge School Board on Monday to keep the Extended Day Program around for at least one more year.  Staff photo by Nicholas Handy


Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, June 08, 2016 7:17PM
AFTERSCHOOLPROGRAMMoney needed for 2016-17: $135,000Amount remaining after fees: $55,000Number of staff: nineNumber of students presently enrolled: 86 at Jaffrey Grade School, 59 at Jaffrey-Rindge Middle SchoolPOTENTIAL FEE SCHEDULEOne time registration f

By NICHOLAS HANDY

Two things were clear after Monday’s Jaffrey-Rindge School Board meeting. Everyone supports Jaffrey’s after-school program, but no one knows how it will be funded.

With no grant in place, Extended Day Program Director Kathleen Batchelder told the board that $135,000 is needed to fund staff salaries for the 2016-17 school year, which includes Batchelder taking a 40-percent pay cut. Batchelder asked the School Board to agree to paying the staff salaries, which the program would attempt to repay throughout the year.

“I’m asking the board for a good faith agreement to provide seed money for the program,” said Batchelder. “I hope we are self-sustaining at the end of the year. But if it doesn’t work after a year, it’s over.”

The Extended Day Program has operated the last five years with funds from a 21st Century Community Learning Center state grant. The program served both of the district’s elementary schools and the middle school and offers homework and social support to students.

Batchelder’s second application for an extension to the grant was not approved on May 6. After looking at options, Batchelder determined implementing a fee structure, fundraising, and finding “seed money” is the only way to keep the program afloat.

Batchelder said a fee structure will be implemented, if approved by the board, and will account for $80,000 of total costs, if the same amount of students sign up for the program. Fees would be $35 a week for a full lunch student, $18 for a reduced lunch student, and $9 for a free lunch student. Batchelder says she would work to fundraise the remaining $55,000.

The School Board tabled deliberations and voting on Batchelder’s proposal as three of seven board members not in attendance. Of the four present, Vice Chair Charlie Eicher was most vocal about the after-school program.

“I want to see this program continued, I just don’t know how it should be funded,” said Eicher. Eicher said the goal of the grant was for the program to become self-sustaining after five years.

Eicher argued that Jaffrey could look to implement a similar model to what has taken place in Rindge, where the program is run through the Rindge Recreation Department. Rindge’s program implemented a fee structure and is now self-sustaining.

Batchelder said the same could not happen in Jaffrey, as the town’s recreation department doesn’t have the facility or staffing to handle such a program. She also said that Rindge could better prepare, as they were not held to the same grant guidelines being a subcontracted service.

Eicher was also concerned about loaning $135,000 to the program with no guarantee it would be paid back. Any funds not paid back would have to be absorbed by the district, which would be unfair to Rindge residents. “I think there has been adequate time to come up with a solution to this problem,” said Eicher. “You are putting taxpayers on the hook for this program.”

Despite questions about funding, there was no shortage of people at the meeting showing their support for the program.

“Without this program, I won’t be able to work the hours I do to support my family,” said Mia Lefebvre, during a 30 minute public comment session. “This program has helped him tremendously with his homework. He has gone from Fs to As and Bs.”

Nicholas Handy can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or nhandy@ledgertranscript.com. He is also on Twitter @nhandyMLT.