After-school initiative gets $3.4 million boost


Baltimore officials announced yesterday that they are providing $3.4 million to help fund an after-school program for more than 3,000 students at 39 city schools.

Baltimore's Out of School Time Initiative began last year as a pilot program in 15 schools and will expand beginning this fall.

Each school is paired with a community-based organization -- such as the YMCA or the Parks and People Foundation -- that will be responsible for hiring staff and running the program. It is overseen by the Family League of Baltimore.

Erin Coleman, the program's after-school strategist, said that 78 schools applied and 39 were chosen based on a variety of factors, including their ability to link community groups with schools. "We wanted to match interest with need," Coleman said.

The after-school programs will be run in school buildings and will last three hours, five days a week. Teachers, paid through the foundation, will help students with homework and offer additional tutoring. There also will be art classes, supervised recreation and physical fitness programs.

The program's purpose is to keep children safe, improve their school performance and lessen child care costs after school for working parents, program officials said.

Each group will consist of 32 to 250 student, depending on the size of the school and the level of interest. Details were made public yesterday at a news conference attended by Mayor Martin O'Malley, City Council President Sheila Dixon and city schools chief Bonnie S. Copeland.

Coleman said the program costs about $1,800 per child per year, which includes staff salaries. She said the city is putting up $3.4 million for the program -- up to $1,500 per child. The rest of the money comes from community groups, and the amount spent per student will vary.

About 3,060 students have signed up for the program.

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