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BOE gets after-school program overview

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Managing Editor

Chilton County Board of Education members had numerous questions answered about the Chilton County Children’s Club, hosted at Clanton Elementary School and the YMCA of Chilton County, during a nearly two-hour work session on May 18.

YMCA of Chilton County board and staff of program gave a detailed overview during the meeting. Y board member Jason Calhoun led the overview going down a list of questions submitted by board members and questions texted to the Board chair Angie Sanderson during the meeting.

The program has received a 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant in the past and is set to apply for this competitive grant again. However, the program needs approval from the Chilton County Board of Education to proceed. A prior vote to move forward failed because the board wanted more information.

Chilton County Schools Superintendent Jason Griffin plans on making a recommendation that the board approve to proceed with signing permission to move forward with the grant application at the May 19 voting session. CES Principal Rebecca Threkeld was set to provide the request to Griffin on May 19. This meeting will be streamed live on the Chilton County School District YouTube channel at 6 p.m. A work session will be streamed at 5 p.m.  The grant deadline is June 10.

At a previous meeting, school board members expressed concerns that CES and not the BOE was listed as the partner.

Threkeld said that the board is listed in the legal agreement for the program. Each of the schools are listed on the grant.

Many of the board’s questions had to do with funding and student access to the program.

To receive the 21st Century grant funding, the Chilton County Children’s Club submits documentation on all expenses on a monthly basis to the grant committee and the Alabama Department of Education. The funds go to the YMCA because it is listed as the fiscal agent and then transferred to the CCCC account.

“We have to go through a financial audit every single month,” Calhoun said.

School board members expressed interest in seeing those audits and giving the chief school finance officer access.

“Why would you want to review that?” Calhoun asked.

“It’s running through our school,” Sanderson said. “You say we are a partner. Just for good checks and balances so we know.”

“We run it through the state board of education every month,” Calhoun said.

Calhoun said handling the financials was the Y’s portion of the partnership, but copies of the audits could be supplied to the BOE board.

While discussing access, Threkeld emphasized that the program is open to elementary students in Chilton County. In the past, transportation has only been provided if at least 10 students would be transported.

Sanderson said she would like to end this practice and provide transportation to the program no matter how few students were attending to ensure Maplesville and Verbena have access to the program.

Calhoun said if any parent feels that their student has been denied access to the program the CCCC directors and Y board want to be made aware of this so that the situation can be remedied.

Board member Brian Jackson said he wanted to support whatever measures, including adding locations if needed, to make the afterschool program accessible and successful for all students.

This was discussed as a possibility. The program does not provide any transportation from the program to a student’s home.

Calhoun explained that in addition to the 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant that the program has received, it receives payments from families in the program and some funding from Family Guidance.

Sanderson said the fee from families is repeatedly called a donation by the program, but it really is a tuition.

Threkeld and Calhoun said students are allowed to participate in the program whether they can pay or not.

Scholarships are available on a sliding scale based on income. This scale is the same as the Y’s sliding scale. Calhoun said the form does list the Y on it, but this could be changed to the Chilton County Children’s Club if that was an issue. However, Calhoun estimated there were about 50 students that do not pay anything.

Of Family Guidance, Calhoun said, “We do receive money from them, and we appreciated that. It’s not a lot.”

The most the program would ever receive from Family Guidance would be $85 a month, based on what FG will pay which is less than the general fee.

These funds go to the YMCA because when they were transferred to the CCCC account, much of the money wound up being given back to the Y anyway to cover the student’s membership fee for the Y activities.

“It was almost a wash each month,” Calhoun said.

This arrangement was approved by the grant committee.

Family Guidance offered to pay this for qualified students. It is not required to.

The grant committee had recommended having a fee associated with the program, and this allows the program to provide the level of activities that it has.

Fees received at CES or the Y for the after-school program are taken to the program bookkeeper who is stationed at CES on a daily basis.

Under the memorandum of understanding, the school system provides facilities, transportation, liability insurance for transportation, utilities and the feeding program.

The program pays $100 a month for the use of the busses. Board member Pam Price said other entities that used the busses were charged a different rate.

“That’s a liability that we cover,” Sanderson said.

Calhoun said this is something that could be renegotiated.

A snack and a meal are provided through the CCS Child Nutrition Program, which the school system receives reimbursement for. CNP Director Tasha Hayes said this generates $10,000 a month for the child nutrition program, which help pay salaries and provide afternoon meals to children at other schools.

“If we are going to renegotiate the bus, I think we would like to renegotiate the feeding program,” Calhoun said. “Because the YMCA is also licensed to be able to provide the food.”

Members of both the Y board, staff and the BOE stated that they would like to continue the program even if it is not awarded the grant.

Other topics included how personnel and custodians are paid, who owns the assets and the difficulty of creating a second location. The entire meeting can be viewed on the Chilton County School District YouTube channel.