Elementary after-school care programs preparing for a new school year | SummitDaily.com

Elementary after-school care programs preparing for a new school year

Kids participate in a Keystone Science School after-school program. The science school, town of Breckenridge and other after-school programs are preparing for a new season of after-school programming.
Photo from Keystone Science School

The Keystone Science School and town of Breckenridge will have their after-school programs back in full swing this year, caring for elementary students across the county.

The science school’s after-school program serves students on-site at the Dillon Valley, Frisco, Silverthorne and Summit Cove elementary schools. Keystone Science School staff go to the schools to coordinate and run the programs.

At each school, the program can care for about 20 kids. Keystone Science School spokesperson Dave Miller said the school wants to push this capacity to 30 but would require additional staffing to do so.

“The science school is experiencing the same staffing shortage as the rest of the county,” Miller said. “We are committed to offering the after-school program at each school, whether we have to have our executive director or myself be an instructor. We are hoping to increase our staffing levels so that we can increase our capacities.”

In an attempt to alleviate some of its staffing problems, the science school created a few new full-time positions that are made up of multiple part-time positions. Miller said these new full-time positions received more applications than the part-time job. The school is also trying to recruit high school students to take on some of the part-time, after-school care.

“It’s just mostly about the science school, and really all the youth providers, doing whatever we can to support our local community,” Miller said. “With the support of The Summit Foundation, Epic Promise and the Colorado Health Foundation, we’re all able to make this program happen and try to get all of our families back to some sort of normalcy, which we’re all excited about no matter how hard we have to work.”

In Breckenridge, the recreation center staff will run its traditional sport and activity programs on top of its daily Breckenridge Mountain Camp after-school program. The daily camp program teaches kids about nutrition and provides them with a healthy snack and an hour of physical activity, with swimming on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The town buses students from Breckenridge Elementary to the recreation center, and chaperones walk kids from Upper Blue Elementary. Families from other locations would be responsible for their own transportation for Breckenridge programs.

John Dorr, recreation programs manager with the town of Breckenridge, said they serve anywhere from 110 to 160 kids with the after-school programs each day.

Breckenridge Recreation has five program coordinators as well as about 20 part-time staff. Dorr said they are still hiring and would need another four or five people to be fully staffed. He said the full-time program coordinators are able to fill in as needed, too.

“It’s a tremendous melting pot of kids of all different demographics, and we’re really fortunate that we have the facilities and the space and the staffing here,” Dorr said. “We’re definitely excited about the variety of programs that we’re able to offer. … COVID or no COVID, we’re able to pull it off.”

Students and staff will be required to wear masks inside at both programs, but outdoor masking is not required.

Both programs are highly subsidized and are free to students who receive free or reduced lunch in school. The science school receives more than $250,000 from grants and fundraising efforts to make its programs more affordable to local families.

Breckenridge programs typically cost about $10 per day, but scholarships and subsidies are available as needed. The science school has a reduced price for kids who use state Medicaid or Medicare health insurance programs, but even the full-price rate is subsidized because of the funding the program receives.

Registration for fall semester Breckenridge camps opened Aug. 1 and is available at BreckenridgeRecreation.com. Specific sport and activity programs vary throughout the year with three sessions a semester, but the mountain camp after-school program remains in session every day the school district is open.

At Keystone Science School, registration for the first session opens at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 17, and is available at KeystoneScienceSchool.org/after-school. Families can sign their kids up for three to five days of care per week across three 12-week sessions throughout the school year.

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