Polk approves transferring after school program to schools

Published 3:46 pm Monday, August 14, 2017

COLUMBUS – Polk County Recreation’s after school program will no longer exist following commissioners’ approval of transferring the program to the school system last week.


Commissioners met Aug. 7 and unanimously approved a budget amendment to delete the revenue and expenditures of the county’s after school program so the school system can integrate those students into the school system program.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox


After 12 years of receiving federal funding for free after school, the school system was alerted that it will not receive the grant this cycle. The cycle runs for four years.


Polk County Schools Superintendent Aaron Greene attended the county’s meeting last week and said that after school serves a great community need. Students get help with their homework as well as a snack and activities during after school.


Greene said the school system served more than 300 students daily in the after school program last year and had over 400 signed up. The county’s after school program at Stearns served approximately 100 students, so Greene said the need is 400 students in Polk County.


Greene said once they got word about the grant, school officials were very concerned. He said he immediately contacted county manager Marche Pittman and others to find out how a new model could be created.


The recreation department was charging $35 per week for its after school program, so the school system is charging $40 per student. Other after school programs in other counties charge $80-$100 per week, according to Greene.


Polk County Schools will have an after school program at each of its four elementary schools and at Polk County Middle School. There will be a reduced rate offered for students in need of $20 per week for those who qualify. The reduced rate will be based on the free and reduced lunch qualifications.


Greene said he worries since there has to be a charge that the ones who may need it most will be the ones who won’t be able to come to after school. He said a lot of the community is willing to sponsor some students for free and the school system will rank those students in order to help as many as possible.


Greene said the school system’s goal is not offer babysitting services for after school, but a quality program.


“We want quality experiences for young people,” Greene said.


Greene asked commissioners to take the recreation program and infuse that revenue into the school system’s program.


The Polk County Recreation Department will still offer its summer camp program and after school teachers at the recreation after school program are being offered jobs at the school system’s after school programs.


Pittman said the merger is a very well thought out solution. He said the county recreation director and school system spent a lot of time working out the best option.


“For the sustainability of this program, this is the only option we could come up with for both organizations,” said Pittman.


The after school program through the school system is for ages 4 through 8th grade.


The school system will also offer a program on days school is out that is not a national holiday, such as teacher workdays and spring break. The recreation department was also open on those days with a program called “School’s Out.”


The school system, also similar to the recreation department, is offering discounts for multiple children.


The county’s budget amendment was to reduce the amount in the recreation department’s budget for after school, which was $41,428 in revenues and the same in expenses. The county’s budget for after school included $37,678 in salaries and FICA, $750 in fuel and $3,000 in after school supplies.