Around 20 staff and parents came to the first AfterSchool Advisory Board meeting on April 4th. After a round of introductions, Shalisha gave updates to explain why the program is structured like it is, changes that will be and have been made this year, and what staff plan to do going forward.
Background Notes and an Explanation of Some of This Year’s Program Changes
Registration and Payments
This year for the first time, in-person registration was introduced in order to make sure that parents understood the program, and what was expected of them in terms of payments and pickup.
This worked in some ways – it seems that parents are more on top of it this year, and staff attributed that to the fact that each parent had to meet with a staff person and sign a contract agreeing both to pay and to abide by behavioral and other standards.
But, the in-person process was far more unwieldy than expected, and was very frustrating for parents and staff alike.
Size of Program
The program has grown enormously since it started. In 2010-11 the program had about 75 children per day and now it averages 130. Last year, the program felt unwieldy, so it was reorganized:
- Split into smaller groups, so PreK/K are in a group, 1st grade, 2nd/3rd, and 4th/5th.
- Everyone seems happier and there are fewer behavioral issues.
- In previous years, parents were billed for time used. This was an unwieldy process. Now parents are required to pay in advance and it has really helped the payment collection become far smoother.
- There is now a position dedicated to following up with families about payments and that has helped enormously as well.
- Workshops eliminated this year because they made AfterSchool unwieldy and chaotic.
- This year, staff run fewer programs (such as( Art and Cooking with Chocolate) for AfterCare children.
- A few vendors have returned including piano, yoga, and the Brooklyn Strategist.
Gathering children after school
Beginning next month, program staff will gather registered AfterCare children in the auditorium immediately after school so that they are not mixed in with children who are being picked up.
DOE, liability, and insurance
The AfterSchool program is funded exclusively by parent-paid tuition. We collect money from parents, turn that money over to the DOE, and the DOE pays our staff. This arrangement offers our program both liability insurance and the license to function as an extension of the school. The directors made this move three years ago because the program had gotten much bigger and they decided they needed these protections. There are no concerns about liability or license. In other words, we are not a Department of Health certified program because we get our certification and insurance through our arrangement with the DOE.
Proposed solutions to remaining concerns
Full-time AfterSchool Director
First, we will hire a full-time AfterSchool director who will help oversee and coordinate the program, allowing it to run more smoothly. This person will behave as a point person for the program and a contact person for parents.
- We will also have an Advisory Board that will work to support program staff, including the full-time director.
Online Registration, Billing, & Payment
Families now pay in advance, and we will maintain that system. However, we will introduce online payment and online registration. So the in-person registration won’t happen in the 2016–2017 year, except by appointment for folks who are more comfortable registering in person.
Register for Afterschool
One concern about them is that families who were not registered for AfterSchool did not pick up their children on time. This made workshops unwieldy. When we re-introduce workshops, families will have to register for childcare and pay a fee for services rendered if they are not AfterSchool users.
Full time director will bring back affordable workshops to BNS that will reach more of a cross–section of students. Favorite workshops from the past will be BACK! BNS teachers will also provide workshops to regular AfterSchool students at no extra cost! (EX. Monique: scrapping and crafting to older children, Jennifer: dance, story time and theater games to younger children.)
Experienced teachers (Antoinette , Doug) will continue to provide homework help/instruction.
Smaller groups have been great, but we understand that parents want more capacity and we will grow with the needs of the school.
If you would like to look at the PowerPoint presentation that includes many of these points, as well as the current budget, you can find it here.
After Shalisha’s presentation we discussed strategies for moving forward. Please contact us if you would like to be involved in any of the following:
Policies and Programming
We discussed a committee that will focus on policies and programming. The responsibility of this committee will be to talk to current staff about how the program runs and try to translate its practices into a clearer list of policies than we currently have on hand. These will serve as guidelines rather than mandates, but their generation will help us look at the program and consider how we can answer specific concerns that have been raised by parents. Fernando Maneca agreed to chair this subcommittee. This group will also collect information about programs that emerged out of the teachers and other staff people who currently run the AfterCare program. This will be a resource for us as we move forward, so we can draw on ideas that have already been generated.
On-line Registration, billing, and payment
Shalisha has found two companies whose products seem very useful for our on-line registration. Richard Nisa agreed to work with her on on-line registration and bill-paying.
We agreed to make a WordPress site for meeting minutes and other information about the program as it evolves. Nicky Agate will be responsible for the site and in generating some kind of newsletter to keep parents updated about AfterSchool. Liza Featherstone will keep in touch with the PTA, attend their meetings with reports from this group, and write short blurbs for their newsletters. There was some discussion about the best way to disseminate information to parents about continuities and changes in the program.
We will have a group working on bringing back workshops. We discussed the possibility of starting workshops at 3:30 for 2nd through 5th graders so that they will still be in AfterSchool for homework help for the first hour. Kavan suggested that we should negotiate with vendors so that they kick a portion of the revenue they generate back into the program. Katherine suggested that pre-K through 1 might have workshops that start earlier. Andrea Morrell will be working on workshops.
We did not end up having anyone sign up for this committee as of yet.
Hiring a full-time person: We agreed that we would generate a job description and research the budget as well as hiring procedures before the next meeting.
Next meeting: Wednesday, May 4th, from 5:30 – 7 pm. Childcare will be provided.