Grant keeps O.P. Earle after-school program alive

Published 12:28 pm Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A federal grant attained through the efforts of the Boys and Girls Club of the Upstate will keep a successful after-school program open at Landrums O.P. Earle Elementary School.

The $375,000 grant was one of 13 across the state received from 21st Century Community Learning Centers grants, which are authorized by the No Child Left Behind law. The $375,000 will be divided equally between O.P. Earle of Spartanburg District One and Pacolet Elementary of District Three, giving each school $187,500.

Boys and Girls Club of the Upstate President Greg Tolbert wrote the grant, which replaced the expiring grant District One officials previously had in place for the program.

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These grants usually have a non-profit organization that manages it, and in this case, its the Boys and Girls Club, said O.P. Earle Principal Nita High. Theyre going to provide some academic support as well as other opportunities.

Tolbert was out of town and could not be reached for comment.

Students are to receive supplemental academic instruction and tutoring in the four core subjects as well as mentoring. Recreational and arts activities will also be part of the program, according to Ann Greene, assistant superintendent for curriculum instruction and staff development for District One.

The after-school program will continue to be open until 6 p.m. each school day and be free to the families of O.P. Earle students.

When we knew the grant that I wrote last year was going to expire, we contacted the Boys and Girls Club, Greene said. We knew this was a wonderful program to accelerate students’ learning.

She said she expects the program to mirror a successful after-school program the district has had ongoing at Inman Elementary with about an hour of classroom instruction and the other time filled with indoor and outdoor recreational activities and other programs designed to enrich character development.

The grant, which is scheduled to last for four years, provides funding for up to 125 students.

With funding for that many kids, I think we can service all those students who need it, said Greene.

Greene said some O.P. Earle parents have grown to depend on the after-school program because in many cases both parents work and during tough economic times find it difficult to budget for child care.

There has been considerable gnashing of teeth with some parents when we didnt know whether or not wed be able to offer this program, Greene said. A lot of the parents have depended on it and have liked it because theres no worry about after-school pick up, and they know their children are on campus in a safe, school setting.

The Boys and Girls Club will control the budget for the program. Greene said she expects most of the funds to go to salaries and stipends for the staff, while some moneys will be spent on supplies and other needs for the program.

High said she expects the program to be running by the middle of the first week of school, which begins Aug. 16.

I hope we have a lot of students take advantage of it, said High. Its a great opportunity for parents who now have to pay for childcare to get it for free during the school year.