Thursday April 16, 2015
The School’s Out Program is certainly one of the most popular after school and summer programs in the area. This has been evidenced time and again over the years by the sight of parents and guardians camped out overnight in front of schools just to secure a spot for their child. But this year was different. The program expanded and shifted to a lottery system and as a result, all families who wanted to enroll were able to secure a spot.
The School’s Out Program ended 2014 with net revenues of $38,817, which brings the overall fund balance to $166,614. The current year’s revenues are up considerably from this time last year due to the expansion of programming, and year-end results are forecasted to have a positive gain of about $28,000.
School’s Out, directed by Leigh Lamphere, has several program components: K-5 after school, middle school - after school, and a summer program. School’s Out enrolled 310 elementary students for the 2014-15 school year in the K-5 program, which is up from 260 last year. A new kindergarten-only component being offered for FY 15 contributes to the boost in enrollment. Rick Marcotte Central School served between 85-100 children per day, Orchard School served 75-85 children per day and the Chamberlin School between 70-80 children per day.
At the Frederick H. Tuttle Middle School (FHTMS), changes were made as well. The current enrollment is ten students (though some days there are as few as five) which is down from fifteen enrolled at the start of last year. FHTMS is one area where enrollment tends to fluctuate as children become involved in numerous sports and other activities not available at the elementary level. While the middle school program is self-sustaining in the fall months, it becomes more difficult in the spring. One option considered for 2015/2016 is operating the program in the fall but ceasing operation in mid-winter with the option for enrolled students to be bussed to the elementary school programs to act as counselors in training.
Summer programming has had a tremendous impact on decreasing regression in learning which often happens during summer vacation. School’s Out day camps feature math and literacy blocks which offer choice-based activities designed to keep kids practicing skills to keep their minds sharp.
Last year, a School’s Out Program accounts receivable issue was brought to the surface, which has been included in the latest audit management letter. Lamphere had reported to the business office that several accounts had gone long overdue. As of June 30, 2014, there was approximately $90,000 in delinquency. This debt goes back years, and since then, the process for collections has greatly improved. Some of the delinquent payers have now made payment plans and a few others have paid in full. In November, the district began accepting debit and credit cards for payment and the billing terms have been changed such that parents are charged in advance for services. All of these measures should assist in curbing the delinquency trend.
School board chair Elizabeth Fitzgerald lauds Lamphere’s work. “You have consistently brought pilots into the program and I appreciate your adaptability and willingness to test a lot of concepts out, ”she says.
As the program continues to evolve and succeed, it has become a model for other communities looking to provide a valuable service at a reasonable cost.
SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correspondent