After School, Summer Programs At Risk of Losing Funding

Burlington, Vt. - Just because its summer, doesn't mean your child has to stop learning. There are more than 450 programs for kids throughout the summer, and after school. Under President Donald Trump's proposed budget, federal funding for these programs would be lost.

11 year old Jean Baptiste says he would have never learned to swim, let alone sail, if it weren’t for the summer programs through the Burlington School District. 

“I was really scared. I didn’t even want to go to the water. I’m really happy, I’m always going to be coming here, so I can learn more and make new friends,” Baptiste said. 

After going through “Soar”, what the district calls its elementary school summer program, Baptiste is now in his first week with the middle school children. 

“Our programs are to serve all students but really priority students who might not have access to all these opportunities, we serve a high percentage of students free and reduced lunch and a high percentage of students coming from areas of need,” the Director of Expanded Learning Opportunities at the Burlington School District, Christy Gallese said. 

80-percent of the middle school summer program depends on federal funding through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program.  The same grant funds Burlington’s after school programs as well. Under President Trump’s proposed 2018 budget, that money would be zeroed out.

“For the middle school program in particular, we had over 300 students registered. They’re receiving valuable time with literacy and math skills, while also having these exciting opportunities to gain new skills, build friends, become more comfortable in the middle school environment, to have a safe place to go and to be fed,” Gallese said. 

More than 100 communities across Vermont depend on that grant for their programs too. It serves about 15,000 children like Jean Baptiste, with nearly $6 million per year. 

“We would see working families struggle to be able to hold their jobs and be able to show up for work, we would see increases in childhood hunger in Vermont. We would probably see increased instances of youth getting trouble and experimenting in risky behavior, and we would see increases in summer learning loss,” said Holly Morehouse, the Executive Director of Vermont After School. 

“I would probably be at home doing some other boring stuff,” Baptiste said. 

For now, Baptiste’s summer can be anything but boring.  Educators hope their students’ futures remain bright. 

"The academic achievement gap, which is something Vermont struggles with, up to two thirds of that gap by ninth grade can be attributed just to differences in summer opportunities,” Morehouse said. 

Burlington's summer programs begins each day with math and literacy teaching.  There are more than 75 different activities, such as sailing, students can choose from during the five-week middle school summer program.

 

 

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