GOWANDA - Residents in Gowanda are asking for more opportunities for students after school. Several residents spoke out on the issue at a recent board meeting in support for an after-school program for middle school students.
Residents Ralph Swanson and Janet Vogtli, as well as Sharon Mathe, executive director of Healthy Community Alliance, presented facts regarding an after-school program. The residents are asking for the implementation of an after school program.
"We're asking for the board's willingness to be a partner in this project," Swanson said. "That entails Superintendent (Charles) Rinaldi, (Middle School) Principal (David) Smith and other key district staff to participate in planning discussions and the search for funding."
OBSERVER Photo by Samantha McDonnell
Sharon Mathe from the Healthy Community Alliance was one of three residents who approached the Gowanda Board of Education to reinstate a Middle School after school program.
Mathe gave information on the research surrounding the effectiveness of an after-school program. The interest for an after-school program was sparked by a Community Conversation Group. This group's interest was to bring youth development back in to the community.
"... Our goal with this after-school program is to really work to improve academics," she said.
Vogtli said recently there was vandalism at the house of the late Rosemary Harris, who was active with the Gowanda Neighborhood Watch. Some of the youth involved were young teenagers who were active in the after-school program before it was stopped, according to Vogtli. The cost of an after-school program is significantly less than what it would cost to keep a juvenile in the system.
"It costs over $90,000 for just one child in the juvenile justice system, family court or foster care. It takes a fraction of that amount to provide a quality after school program," Mathe said.
While the school does provide sports, students who are not interested in sports need a place to go or for help with academics if needed. Vogtli cited the board restoring a position cut last year after fear that a program to prevent dropping out would no longer exist if the position was cut. Starting a program in January would cost the district between $11,000 and $12,000, according to Vogtli.
"I'm hoping this year, come January, you will try and fund this program," Vogtli said.
Vogtli suggested the board and district front the cost of the program in the beginning and apply for grants and funding in order to support the program.
"After we get this program up and running, let the grants take place," she continued. "I just don't want us to sit and wait for the grants to come in, which could be six months or a year. In the mean time, these kids are still out in the streets, they're struggling and not making it through school."
The board will discuss the matter at an upcoming work session, yet to be announced.
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