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After the School Day

Excerpt from Justin's October Newsletter

Last month in this space, I wrote about the recent academic performance in our schools. I noted that our children are only in school for 32.5 hours a week. So much of what determines their educational attainment and ultimate success in life occurs during the hours when they are not inside a school building.

Along with the Mayor, the School Board Chair, and the School Board Vice Chair, I serve on the City Council/School Board Subcommittee. Under the auspices of that committee, we have spent the past few years focused jointly on the times outside of the classroom. Our work has been designed to leverage those times to improve educational outcomes for our children.

In June, the Council and School Board held a joint worksession to focus on the after-school experience for students around our City.

Today public, private and non-profit organizations provide after-school services. The programs range from extensive homework assistance and tutoring to unstructured gymnasium time.

Our goal must be to improve the outcomes for our children by improving the coordination, quality, and availability of these services.

The first phase of this effort has been to catalog the existing offerings. This phase worked to document the locations, funding, capacity, and gaps that exist today.

The second phase of the effort worked to define what our goals for after-school must be. This phase looked at best practices, how to align with academic programs, and the financial implications of changes.

Our final phase will be to make policy proposals to implement an integrated and aligned system that will support success.

The data collection efforts showed clear discrepancies in the availability of after-school services in the west end versus the east end of the City. It also showed wide variation in the types of services offered to youth as well as the grade levels that the programs serve.

The policy recommendations for improving after-school will come to the Council near the end of this year. I'm hopeful that we will be able to advance policy changes that will fully leverage our investments in after-school activities to improve the academic outcomes for our kids.

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