With the school year well underway, parents of New Hanover County School students may be relieved to know that after-school care is back. At Tuesday night’s School Board meeting, members unanimously approved a motion to renew the Community Development Institute’s Head Start Contract, meaning about a thousand kids throughout the district can receive free supervision, snacks and help with homework after school. The services kick off this week.
This is only the second year such a service has been available during the fall. Dale Pelsey-Becton, the school district’s assistant superintendent for instruction and academic accountability, explains that previously, the federal government required Title 1 schools—which typically serve low-income families--to work with pre-approved vendors on their after-school programs. However, last year, the state cleared districts to use this funding to set up their own programs.
"So we started our own program, where we’re serving 1,000 kids for 90 hours, and paying less money for that service, so that more kids and more money goes to Title 1 Schools, to use as they deem necessary, to meet the needs of their students."
Pelsey-Becton says that when the school district had to go through federally-approved vendors, it could only afford to provide after-school programs for 500 students, and only during the spring.
"When we’re doing it ourselves, and can hire our folks, we start it in the fall, so that the children have consistency throughout the year of having this extra help."
Pelsey-Becton explains that now the school board hires after-school program managers-- hourly employees who don’t teach--to run the programs. She says this ensures school staff don’t have to step in after the school day ends, which helps to prevent burnout.