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Changes Impact Districts After School Program
These youngsters were having a good time participating in an activity at the Lights On event at California Avenue Elementary that was offered as part of the After School Program. - photo by VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS

Working to keep a valuable program viable, Riverbank Unified School District officials are aiming to maintain the integrity of their ASP, After School Program.

During the 2012-13 school year it was apparent that they would be losing part of the 21st CCLC (Century Community Learning Centers) federal funding for the After School Program for this school year, 2013-14.

According to the website, the program description of the CCLC is as follows: this program supports the creation of community learning centers that provide academic enrichment opportunities during non-school hours for children, particularly students who attend high-poverty and low-performing schools. The program helps students meet state and local student standards in core academic subjects, such as reading and math; offers students a broad array of enrichment activities that can complement their regular academic programs; and offers literacy and other educational services to the families of participating children.

Barbara Evans, program administrator, helped out with the transition in leadership after Esther Rosario resigned and Keenon Krick, Program/Grant Manager was hired.

Krick recently presented the Riverbank Unified School District (RUSD) Board with an update of the ASP after losing partial funding from the 21st CCLC, offering the information at a school board meeting in January.

“So where we are right now is that we have a vibrant after school program during this year 2013-14 school year and we have a number of students that are participating,” said Dr. Daryl Camp, RUSD Superintendent, in offering information to the board as well.

Originally RUSD had a partnership with the City of Riverbank to keep the after school program going. However, they have had lower than anticipated enrollment in the ASP for the 2013-14 school year so the partnership with the city was no longer necessary.

Currently, the ASES (After School Education and Safety) program is largely funding the ASP so that the District can continue to offer this opportunity to students.

On the California Department of Education website it states that the ASES Program funds the establishment of local after school education and enrichment programs. These programs are created through partnerships between schools and local community resources to provide literacy, academic enrichment and safe constructive alternatives for students in kindergarten through ninth grade (K-9). Funding is designed to: (1) maintain existing before and after school program funding; and (2) provide eligibility to all elementary and middle schools that submit quality applications throughout California. The current funding level for the ASES program is $550 million.

RUSD’s Project A.C.T.I.O.N. (After School Care in Our Neighborhood), which supports the after school activities, lists its goals as being to provide a safe secure and enriching environment for students beyond the school day, provide increased opportunity for families to develop effective communication with the schools, and to encourage fewer student absences to increase academic performance, higher self-esteem, and healthier lives.

The current funding for the 2013-14 school year is providing the after school program for 84 students at the elementary schools, 112 at Riverbank Language Academy, and 112 at Cardozo Middle School. Through the 21st CCLC funding program 135 students at RHS are also able to participate in the ASP if necessary.

There is no before school funding due to partial loss of the 21st CCLC, therefore the district cannot provide that opportunity for students and their families.

In October, Project A.C.T.I.O.N. hosted the seventh annual “Lights On” celebration at California Avenue Elementary to remind the community that the ASP exists from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. throughout the school year.

“(The program) Essentially is to keep lights on after school and keep students back on the school campus in a safe place for them to be as well as within the school district in an educational place for them to be,” said Krick. “It really is an extended learning tool; that is what after school is and to help support what is going on in a school day.”

The National Education Association’s Read Across America Day 2014 happens on March 3. Across the country students at various schools will be participating in a campaign to promote reading for fun and Riverbank will also join in.

Project A.C.T.I.O.N., RUSD, and other local groups will participate in this national event and have called it Read Across Riverbank (RAR) here, starting March 3 and ending March 28, utilizing almost an entire month to focus on the importance of reading.

There will be a celebration at Cardozo Middle School on March 28 in the cafeteria from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., this family literacy event is free and open to the community.

The ASP staff will be facilitating the event and at the elementary level the students will be reading as many books as they can throughout the month, according to Krick.

At the middle school they will be reading articles rather than books to participate in RAR.

“We are looking for any opportunity to serve the community,” said Camp. “It basically comes down to academic need, number one, then a strong emphasis towards having our kids in a safe environment is the interest citywide and is our big focus.”