House Bill Threatens Funding for Somerville After-School Programs
A spending bill passed by the House this month would cut funding for a federal grant that enables schools nationwide--and in Somerville--to administer after-school programs.
The House recently passed a bill that would reduce federal funding for a program that last year awarded Somerville Public Schools hundreds of thousands of dollars for after-school programs.
The House bill, called H.R.1, would cut $100 million from the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) Grant, which funds after-school programs nationwide. In total, the bill would cut some $60 billion in federal spending on domestic programs, foreign aid and military enterprises for the next seven months, according to The New York Times. House Democrats unanimously voted against the bill, and President Obama threatened to veto it.
CCLC grants fund after-school and summer recess activities, including remedial education and academic enrichment in math, science, music and art. The state-administered grants also enable schools to provide counseling and drug and prevention programs.
Statewide, approximately 19,500 Massachusetts students participated in CCLC programs between September 2008 and August 2009, according to a report by the state’s Department of Education.
Somerville programs received a $300k federal grant last year
Last year, Somerville Public Schools received approximately $300,000 in CCLC monies to operate after-school programs at the Healey, Kennedy and Winter Hill schools, said Gretchen Kinder, who coordinates grants for the district. Some 265 students participate in those programs.
Somerville spends about $1M yearly on after-school programs
The federal CCLC funding accounts for roughly one-third of the $1 million annually that the Somerville Public Schools spend to administer after-school programs. That includes the cost of paying teachers and after-school staff to manage the programs and also pays for scholarships for students whose families cannot afford the fees, said Kinder.
Daily after-school program fees range from $15 to $23, depending on a student’s grade and what time the student leaves the program. Schools also offer weekly rates between $75 and $125.
The majority of students who participate in the CCLC programs are in elementary school, according to a state Department of Education report. Kinder said that the district charges middle school students a lower rate than elementary school students to draw older students into the programs.
She also said that the district recently decided not to apply for a CCLC grant for the high school because of the state-funded remedial programs already available there.
The House on Tuesday approved a two-week federal budget that would keep the government running and also cut $4 billion of the $61 billion that House Republicans plan to eliminate from the fiscal year 2011 budget.