Before, during and after-school programs see increasing numbers and increasing impact, she says

    Increased state funding coupled with local efforts to make Crookston Public Schools more accessible and convenient when it comes to students and families juggling hectic schedules have resulted in new and expanded programming in the schools that Denice Oliver says is being utilized.

    Oliver, principal of Washington School and also the director of Community Education and Early Childhood Family Education, gave members of the Crookston School Board and Superintendent Chris Bates a rundown Monday of where some of the new and expanded programming stands, numbers and impact-wise.

    • Increased state funding has resulted in expanded early childhood education/School Readiness program in the local school district. Specifically, the pre-kindergarten School Readiness program for three and four-year-olds has been increased from 53 days to 117 days, and largely as a result, Oliver said, enrollment has increased by 25 students. Through a collaboration with Tri-Valley’s Head Start program at the Community Family Service Center, she said 39 of the 84 students enrolled in the program receive full-time programming.

    “When they’re not with us at Washington School they are at the Head Start building,” Oliver said.

    Asked by board member Tim Dufault if the parents of some of the remaining 45 students would be able to have access to full-time programming if they wanted it, Oliver said space constraints would be the biggest hurdle. Three classrooms at Washington are already being utilized fully right now, she said.

    “The parents seem to appreciate this programming,” Oliver said. “When there are slots available they tend to fill up.”

    • Before and after-school programming has grown at both Washington and Highland schools, Oliver said. “Over time we have seen a big need for this in our community, and we are registered to capacity,” she said.

    School-Age Care after school at Washington averages 55 students a day, with the number closer to 35 at Highland.

    Participants in the Polk County 4-H program are starting to conduct outreach programming in the after-school programs, Oliver said. They’ll focus mainly on weekly programs at Washington School starting in November, with once-a-month programming at Highland School. Then, early in 2018, the focus will shift more to Highland, with monthly 4-H programs at Washington.

    “It’s nice for our students to be exposed to different activities that 4-H offers,” she said. “They can get experience in some things that they maybe wouldn’t have otherwise been a part of.”

    A new program launched during the 2016-17 school year that allows children to be dropped off at Washington and Highland schools as early as 6:45 a.m. is also having an impact, Oliver said. “Our first child arrives at Washington at 6:50 a.m. consistently,” she said.

    Washington has around 10 kids that are typically dropped off early, and at Highland a handful of kids are consistently dropped off early.

    Oliver also noted that a new family has recently moved to Crookston with five children that have inquired about the new and expanded programming at Washington and Highland schools.

    “They will need programming, which we are happy to hear,” she said.