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After-school acceleration Beyond the school day: Students in Vancouver Public Schools benefit from a combination of after-school activities and partnerships with the community. Above left, children at Minnehaha Elementary School laugh during Read and Play, and right, a Washington Elementary School father takes part in Family Night. they're not," she says. "We've really had to work to educate people so that they can see this isn't taking funds from the school day." Similar issues have faced the two afterschool programs in Austin ISD, which together enroll about 7,500 of the district's 84,000 students in activities ranging from tennis, nutrition and fitness to STEM, literacy and college readiness. Although both programs are free and grant-funded-one with $4.2 million in federal money, one with $1.1 million in city money-questions still arise. "You'll hear every now and then: 'Well, do you want that after-school program, or do you want a science teacher?'" says John Shanks, who administers the Austin district's federally funded program. Relying on grants with finite time frames makes sustainability a major concern, says Shanks, who spends a lot of time finding the funding to keep programs going. At one of his schools, a much-loved program of project-based enrichment activities serving 120 students may lose funding next year when its grant expires, he says. Launch your own after-school programs 1. Start at the finish line: "Focus on the results that are important to you," says Martin Blank, director of the Coalition for Community Schools. "If you want students engaged, after-school is a way to keep them more excited. You want students to be healthy. Afterschool is a place where they can get fed. Think about your work in terms of results that will then help to support your own core mission." 2. Assess needs: Different communities want different things from their after-school programs. "You've heard that old adage, 'Build it and they will come,'" says Lee Vallery, who administers a city-funded after-school program in Austin ISD. "It doesn't apply. You need to find out what they want and then build it." 3. Partner with other community groups: Chances are the YMCA, the Boys & Girls Club or the public library is already running an after-school program and might welcome a collaboration with local schools. 4. Consider sustainability: Make sure that once your program is up and running, it won't suddenly disappear. "It isn't just about your internal capacity to support out-of-school-time programming," says Steve Webb, superintendent of Vancouver Public Schools in Washington. "You've also got to give partners time to build capacity to scale for sustainability. You need a long-range business plan." 48 August 2016 Where's the proof? Making a data-driven case for such programs can be complicated. Although research links after-school programs to improvements in grades, behavior and attendance, it can be difficult to isolate their impact in districts trying various interventions. Over the past eight years, Vancouver Public Schools in Washington has greatly expanded the community-schools initiative, establishing 16 school-based resource centers where staff members partner with community organizations to help students' families with food, health care and housing. The partnerships also provide after-school and summer school programs in such areas as sports, math, music and robotics. The district has seen striking improvements in grades, ACT scores and graduation rates, but Superintendent Steve Webb acknowledges he can't single out the impact of any one component. "Folks want to say, 'Well, if you just do out-of-school programming, that'll help,'" he says. "Of course it'll help, but we also know we have to invest in removing other barriers to student success in schools." DA MORE ONLINE @ Go to DAmag.me/after for resources. Deborah Yaffe is a freelance writer based in New Jersey. District Administration http://www.DAmag.me/after

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration August 2016

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