The Kingston City School District is making the most of its federal COVID-19 relief packages, partnering with numerous local and national organizations to offer a wide range of before- and after-school programs for elementary school students.
“When we received our funding, one of the commitments we made was to have after-school activities in every one of our buildings,” said Superintendent Paul Padalino. “In the past, the middle schools and high school really were the hubs for after-school activities, but we were able to partner with both the YMCA and Healthy Kids (Programs) in all of our elementary schools. And we partner here at our Meagher Pre-K with the YWCA, which does wraparound care for our students too. And that’s really exciting.”
The KCSD received $6.4 million through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act enacted on December 20, 2020; and $15.1 million through the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act enacted on March 11, 2021.
The CRRSA funding is available for the district to use through September 2023, while the ARP funding can be spent through September 2024, with at least 20 percent of the $15.1 million required to be spent on “learning loss” during the pandemic. Learning loss could be addressed with after-school or extended day activities, summer learning or enrichment, or extended school year. Learning loss spending should consider underrepresented student subgroups, including but not limited to children from low-income families, children with disabilities, English learners, homeless children and foster children.
“All the research says that after-school programs are really important for our students, and having this extra ARP funding to be able to do that has been great,” Padalino said.
The YMCA School’s Out program offers both before- and after-school programs at Chambers, Edward R. Crosby, Harry L. Edson, George Washington and John F. Kennedy elementary schools, while Healthy Kids operates at Ernest C. Myer and Robert R. Graves Elementary. In addition to the YMCA, Magic Circle School also offers programming at Meagher.
“It’s just nice to have them come in and work with kids,” Padalino said. “We have great community connections.”
The superintendent said it was too early in the school year to get concrete numbers of students involved, but he said the expectation was that it would build upon the success of the 2021-22 school year.
“Last year when we put this in place, the participation was fantastic at all buildings,” Padalino said.
Programs on either end of the school day are also available at the middle and high school levels, with organizations like Wild Earth and the Center for Creative Education as partners.
“It’s great,” Padalino said, adding that there’s an extremely wide range of options at the secondary level. “Some of it is homework help, but some of it is also doing social and emotional work with the students.”
The superintendent said that the extended day was beneficial for students of all ages in the district.
“I always think the longer we can keep our arms around our students here in our buildings and in our schools and on our campuses, that’s a good thing,” he said.