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Central’s new after-school programs up and running

MONMOUTH/INDEPENDENCE — Months of planning and training came to fruition Nov. 4 when Central School District kicked off its elementary after-school programs.

Ash Creek Elementary School first-grader Ryder Stewart bounces around the gym Nov. 6 during the recess time of Beyond the Bell, Central School District's newly implemented elementary after school program. The Monmouth Independence YMCA sponsors the snack and recess time during the after school program.

Photo by Aaron Newton

Ash Creek Elementary School first-grader Ryder Stewart bounces around the gym Nov. 6 during the recess time of Beyond the Bell, Central School District's newly implemented elementary after school program. The Monmouth Independence YMCA sponsors the snack and recess time during the after school program.

November 12, 2013

MONMOUTH/INDEPENDENCE — Months of planning and training came to fruition Nov. 4 when Central School District kicked off its elementary after-school programs.

Funded by the 21st Century Grant the district was awarded in July, administrators hope the program — Beyond the Bell — will be the impetus for boosting school performance numbers.

With the release of the Oregon Department of Education district and school report cards last month, it is evident some schools in the district could use a boost.

"We're hoping to be able to extend the school day for those kids," said Steve Tillery, Independence Elementary School principal. "Allowing them greater opportunities to work on skills they might be lagging in."

The original roll out for the elementary-level program was set to be the beginning of October, but administrators ran into a wall when hiring tutors and coordinators.

After-school programs at Central High School and Talmadge Middle School have been running since the beginning of the school year.

The district is still a little short-handed, but enough tutors are on hand to accommodate current student involvement.

"We're hoping to have 60 (students) in the program per building, but so far we're lower than that," said Tillery. "As we bring on enough people, we'll increase those numbers. We've got a waiting list already of children."

Each school currently has one on-site coordinator and a handful of tutors — two of the three coordinators are licensed teachers, giving the program an inherent boost.

Those coordinators tailor each program to their school; it's not a cookie-cutter program dispatched by the district or an outside group.

"In the hiring process, one of my key things is that people love kids," said Karen Harlow, after-school program coordinator. "It worked out well for us that we were able to get a few teachers in those coordinator positions."

The program at each school consists of a snack and recess time, sponsored by the YMCA — one of several community partners in the grant — followed by homework or enrichment time.

With this being the first term of the program, changes could occur in the winter and spring terms, Harlow said.

Whatever changes do occur, the program will focus on extending the school day and providing students a means to better grasp concepts from the classroom.

"We're trying to align and integrate the school day," Harlow said. "If a classroom is doing a unit on volcanoes, we would love to do an enrichment piece to build on that — not reinvent the wheel."