A sad lack of priority

We firmly believe that many parents of elementary and secondary school children would agree that before- and after-school support, especially for young ones, is invaluable.

In fact, it’s critical, what with the need to teach kids to build a strong, individual work ethic, and due to today’s evolving, workplace technology.

That’s why we’re among those who are very disappointed that competitive, federal grant funding for, in this case, Keystone Central School District’s 21st Century Program, has ended.

In KCSD, the grant funded multiple before- school and after-school activities.

In the last school year, more than 2,000 students in Keystone – a district with a very high rate of kids categorized as economically disadvantaged – accessed the program.

There was the all-important tutoring.

There was education on drug and alcohol abuse prevention – so important in an area that has seen more than its fair share of abuse. There were physical activities and snacks, along with enrichment lessons.

Also making the program special were partnerships the school district formed with the Lock Haven YMCA, Valley Prevention Services and the Western Clinton County Recreation Authority to provide services.

These partnerships, according to Keystone Superintendent Kelly Hastings and Program Director and Liberty-Curtin Principal Steve Kreger, enabled students to access the YMCA and WCCA facilities, and allowed a full-time drug and alcohol prevention specialist to talk with the kids.

There was intramural basketball, the Little Ladies 5K Run, and after-school movie nights. In the summer, the program sponsored scholarships for students to attend Millbrook Theater Camp and three weeks of summer camps for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

Funding for 21st Century expired June 30.

The program was convenient for late-working parents, and gave those parents more reason to talk with their kids about school and to help with homework.

Said Hastings, “We worry about what the loss of this program will mean to the students, parents, and ultimately to the community. This program gave our students the chance to receive academic support and participate in enrichment activities, receive a healthy snack, and be supervised for several hours after school by caring adults. For parents, many of whom work multiple jobs to support their families, it gave them the security of knowing their children were in a safe and supervised environment. Certainly a community thrives when its children thrive, and any loss of programming that supports our children is ultimately a loss for our community.”

While Keystone officials said they’re hopeful future funding may be forthcoming so another grant application can be submitted, that does not guarantee funding.

This is another example of lawmakers failing to understand that the investment of taxpayer money in education of young people is essential, even amid budget cuts. That failure, that negligence ends up costing us all.

– The (Lock Haven) Express