After school program comes to San BrunoBy Michael Flaherty
As part of a recently approved joint-use agreement, the city and the San Bruno Park Elementary District will provide an after school program at three schools starting this fall.
Providing a post-school enrichment activities will allow local latch-key kids, who return home unsupervised at the end of the school day, to engage in academic, athletic and creative activities instead of just hanging out.
"We're not sure how many of these kids there are, but we know there is a lot of them," said Michelle Wierschem, the city's recreation services manager.
Increased numbers of children loitering at schools, particularly Allen Elementary, alerted the district and the city that a salient need existed to offer students organized after school options.
When classes begin at the end of August, three elementary schools - Belle Air, Portola and Allen - will host roughly 40 students apiece after the last bell rings. Offered to children in grades fourth, fifth and sixth grades, the program runs until 5:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday.
Each school will provide a homework club for the first hour; during the second hour, students may choose between an intramural sports activity or drama, painting and music - all of which rotate on a weekly basis; the last 90 minutes are comprised of a structured, participatory activity.
"Every week we will switch it up to keep the schedule varied," Wierschem promised. So far she has hired 16 instructors, but with only a few weeks remaining until school starts, she is still looking for a music teacher.
The idea to implement such a program came as an offshoot to the recently signed joint use agreement between the city and the district.
Before the agreement, the two governing bodies operated under archaic cooperative arrangements, where school buildings remained vacant and fields went unkempt and kid-free after school and throughout the summers. Some contracts divided city and district use of property by acre.
"How does one decide acreage?" asked Recreation Services Director Larry Mazzucca, after dusting off public land contracts dating back to the 1960s. Approved by both the San Bruno City Council and the district, the joint use agreement now allows both entities to share parks, fields, playgrounds and schools year-round under a universal agreement.
"It focuses on two specific areas. First is shared facilities and the second is maintenance," Mazzuca noted. The city for decades provided free maintenance to certain district facilities at a cost that "crept over the $50,000 mark," he said. Under the five-year joint use plan, the city and the district will eventually split these costs evenly - including the after school program.
Competing with some day care providers that offer supervision for kindergartners up through sixth grade will be a factor. Deciding whether a fourth, fifth or sixth grader elects to stay in day care or join the after school program is up to the parents, said Wierschem.
While the fee schedule has not been worked out yet, city and district officials foresee a $200 charge for one of the nine-week cycles of the program.
Registration for the after school program begins on Aug. 19 at the Parks and Recreation department. For more information please call Michelle Wierschem at 616-7183.
Copyright ©2002 Independent Newspapers. Published 07/30/2002.