SF school district seeks to expand access to after school programs 

click to enlarge after-school programs
  • cindy chew/2005 S.f. Examiner file photo
  • SFUSD officials say there are 15,752 elementary school students enrolled in after-school programs, and many schools also have waiting lists for such programs.
The San Francisco Unified School District is taking steps to make after-school programs more widely available to all students, a move commissioners say has been needed for years.

The Board of Education unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday committing to increase access to after-school programs for the 26,005 students in kindergarten through fifth grade. Beginning with the 2014-15 school year, the district will seek to expand the capacity at schools where more space is needed for after-school programs already in place.

Over time, the purpose of the resolution is to create a districtwide standard for after-school programs that can accommodate all students. The resolution applies primarily to elementary schools because most middle and high schools aren’t at capacity for their after-school programs, according to district officials.

“I have wanted to do something to change and expand capacity in after-school programs the whole time I’ve been on the board,” said board member Jill Wynns, who introduced the resolution in November.

There are 15,752 elementary students enrolled in after-school programs, according to district officials. Currently, 34 district schools have waiting lists for students wishing to enroll in various after-school programs.

Other changes outlined in the resolution, including the possibility of altering school start times and implementing a single online application for after-school programs, are being considered and will involve careful planning and outreach, according to Wynns.

“There are a huge amount of infrastructure changes that are needed, because we don’t have those kinds of systems that would support this,” Wynns said of expanding after-school programs.

District officials emphasized that most changes are still in the preliminary stages, and the district plans to conduct a telephone survey of parents to determine the desire and need for certain after-school programs.

Implementing a uniform sliding-scale payment system for parents enrolling their kids in after-school programs is also part of the resolution. The district estimates it would cost $42 million to provide after-school care for all K-5 students, about $2 million of which could come from fee-based contributions.

While commissioners all voiced support for the resolution they also remained cautious regarding the potential financial ramifications.

“Not knowing the cost is a little scary,” said board President Sandra Lee Fewer.

However, Wynns noted that ultimately the district’s after-school programs — some of which collaborate with nonprofits such as the Boys & Girls Club and the YMCA — could be much less expensive than private after-school care.

“I’m kind of astounded by how inexpensive this is,” Wynns said. Two members of the San Francisco Parent Political Action Committee also expressed their support of the resolution at Tuesday’s board meeting, saying it “fills a critical need for working families.”

About The Author

Laura Dudnick

Laura Dudnick, a Bay Area native, covers education and planning for The San Francisco Examiner. She previously worked as a senior local editor for Patch.com, and as the San Mateo County bureau reporter and weekend editor for Bay City News Service.
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