School board votes down EDP funds

  • Jaffrey-Rindge School Superintendent Reuben Duncan, left, and chair Laurel McKenzie during the board’s Monday meeting. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • The Jaffrey-Rindge School Board voted not to fund Jaffrey's extended day program at its Monday, June 20, 2016 meeting. (Nicholas Handy / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript...

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, June 22, 2016 7:37PM

Jaffrey parents will need to find another after-school option for their children, after the School Board voted against funding the district’s program.

In a 2-5 vote, the Jaffrey-Rindge School Board turned down program director Kathleen Batchelder’s request to provide the Extended Day Program with $135,000 to fund staff salaries.

“I’m sad that the program is gone, but I’m proud that a number of parents showed up to the meeting to show their support,” said Batchelder, in an interview Tuesday. “I hope that the community comes together and something happens in the future.”

The program has operated the last five years with state funds from a 21st Century Community Learning Cente. Batchelder had applied for a second five-year grant, but it was not approved on May 6. The program served both of the district’s elementary schools and the middle school, offering homework and social support to students.

“I’m certainly disappointed with the school board’s decision, but I understand that their hands are tied,” said Heather Tulio, whose 10-year-old daughter has been in the program since its inception. “I was always impressed with the program and the staff. It was a program I relied on because both my husband and I work late.”

School Board members voiced their support for the program throughout the meeting, but the decision was ultimately a financial one.

“I don’t think there is a board member here that doesn’t see the value of the program,” said board member Jeff Clark-Kevan. “The challenge is dealing with a budget that was approved in March. It’s all about funding.”

Batchelder’s proposal involved the school district funding the salaries of her employees up front, with the program refunding as much money as possible throughout the year. Batchelder felt that she could get $80,000 in one year out of fees established on a sliding scale, with the remaining funds coming from fundraising.

Many Rindge parents in attendance were upset by that notion, as it put Rindge taxpayers on the hook for Jaffrey’s program. Rindge Memorial School will continue to have a program, as it is run through the Rindge Recreation Department, and already took steps to become self-sufficient.

“Rindge became self-sufficient, and that’s the bottom line for me,” said Rindge resident Kelen Geiger. “Part of the grant was to become self-sufficient. I’m concerned with how the program was run in Jaffrey.”

The door on an after-school program in Jaffrey has yet to close, as Board chair Laurel McKenzie said she has spoke with a Jaffrey Selectman who said he would entertain the idea of erecting a program similar to Rindge’s.

“It would have to be a collaboration between the school district and the town,” said McKenzie.

“If the School Board doesn’t move forward with this, don’t think all hope is lost.”

Nicholas Handy can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235.