After-school programs set to receive funding boost
An after-school program operating in Garfield County middle schools that continues to grow in popularity is gearing up to expand even further with the help of a leading Roaring Fork Valley philanthropist.
Jim Calaway, a leading funder for a variety of education, health care and cultural programs and facilities in the Roaring Fork Valley, has been meeting with Steve Kaufman, executive director for the Access (formerly Access Roaring Fork) “Second Shift” program, to create the new “Opportunity Project.”
The goal is to expand the after-school, or extended-day, programs in Roaring Fork Re-1, Garfield Re-2 and Garfield District 16 schools with funding help from Calaway. Kaufman also hopes to engage other donors as well.
Under a policy change given preliminary approval by the Re-1 school board recently, Calaway and other donors would receive program name recognition for their efforts at designated “Access” schools within the district.
“This identification will help create community awareness of the Access extended-day presence, and a public understanding of a common set of standards and expectations that all ‘Access Schools’ will create and maintain,” Kaufman said.
The Access programs started at Carbondale Middle School three years ago. With funding assistance from Garfield County government and area municipalities, they are now available at all middle schools in the three Garfield County school districts.
The idea originated as a way to provide after-school activities for adolescent youth during the typical late afternoon “latch-key” period between the time school lets out and parents arrive home from work.
It’s evolving into what Kaufman envisions as an extension of student learning time beyond the normal school day.
In addition to a variety of academic-based classes, such as Fast Forward (homework help), Spanish and Japanese, there are also classes centered around the fine arts, music, dance, culinary arts and physical activities.
The classes are offered to students for a nominal fee, and are taught by district teachers, community members and parents, either for a small stipend or on a volunteer basis.
While the programs are based at specific schools, they are open to middle school-aged students attending any district, charter or private school in the community.
The program has grown from 500 students last school year to more than 900 over the course of the year, Kaufman said.
Roll-out of the Opportunity Project, an expansion of the Second Shift program, is anticipated by next summer. A specific pilot school has yet to be decided, but will be in the Re-1 school district, he said.
“Our focus will be documented academic improvement,” Kaufman said. “We intend to increase the number of academic after-school classes, and include periodic Saturday and summer classes as we scale up.”
Meanwhile, the Re-1 district name recognition policy revision would allow for the formal name of a particular school to be followed by “home of the Calaway Access Opportunity Program,” or something similar, he said.
The school board will give final consideration to the revised policy at its Thursday, Oct. 27, meeting, beginning at 9 a.m. at the Re-1 District Office in Glenwood Springs.
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Policy that dictates what for-profit activities should be officially sanctioned within Glenwood Springs parks is being reviewed by city staff and will likely come before the city council for final approval later this summer.