North Adams- State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield) and State Representative Daniel E. Bosley (D-North Adams) are pleased to announce that the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has chosen two local schools to receive After-School and Out-of-School Time Quality Grants.
“This grant assistance ensures that our students have access to high-quality, after-school programming that will enrich their academic experience and help them develop into responsible, productive members of our society,” said Downing. “I applaud the Department for selecting these two schools to receive funding. Our children, families and communities will all be well served through this programming.”
Two grants totaling $148,500 have been awarded to the North Adams Public Schools ($100,000) and the Berkshire Arts and Technology Charter Public School (BArT) in Adams ($48,500).
Representative Bosley said, “In the midst of a tough fiscal situation, I am pleased that this funding was made available to the district. After-School programs are vital to ensuring our students remain on an equal playing field. In addition to that, this funding can be used to supplement learning opportunities that students aren’t always exposed to during school hours.”
North Adams Public Schools will use their funds in partnership with Northern Berkshire Community Coalition and Northern Berkshire Creative Arts to administer enriching and engaging after-school and summer programming to students. The funding will allow the school system to expand their 21st Century After School Program into the summer months, providing elementary and middle school students with academic and enrichment activities. Funding will also allow the school system to continue its presence in the community substations and to explore the establishment of a new site at the Brayton Hill housing complex where students will be able to access computers, homework help and enrichment activities. Currently, there are three school system substations in the community. Using a portion of this grant, and through a partnership with the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition, an additional position will be created to serve as a community liaison between students, families and community programs.
Lauding this award, Superintendent James E. Montepare said, “I am thrilled that we have been awarded this funding and I am equally thrilled to partner with Al Bashevkin, Executive Director of the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition and Northern Berkshire Creative Arts . Together, we will expand our reach into the community and provide the support necessary to strengthen our students, families and community.”
BArT plans to open an after-school program for its middle and high school students. As a regional charter public school serving students from central and northern Berkshire County, BArT operates on an extended school day, and has recently adjusted its daily schedule in order to enhance its academic program. To support their overarching goal of providing the highest level of academic programming for students, BArT will offer a multi-tiered program that will include a tutoring center, academic and community service clubs, as well as the opportunity to participate in art-based initiatives, including the MCC/Creative Schools project, Storytelling in the 21st Century. The regional nature of the school, coupled with an extended school day, necessitates that BArT provide its students with after-school programming that they would otherwise miss (due to the length of the school day) in the home communities.
BArT Executive Director Julia Bowen said, “This grant will enable us to expand our programming to meet the requests of parents and students to offer after school academic and extra-curricular programming. We have created a partnership with Williams College for tutoring services and now we can expand on our partnership with Americorp and Greylock Arts to provide greater access to extra-curricular music and arts programming for all of our students. Importantly, this grant will pay for after school busing so that all of our students can participate in these activities.”
After receiving over 200 proposals, the Department issued 67 After-School and Out-of-School Time Quality Grants to communities statewide totaling $5.4 million. These state-funded grants seek to increase high quality, comprehensive after-school and out-of-school time initiatives for school age children and youth during the school year and throughout the summer break. Priority considerations were given to ensure representation across the Commonwealth using diverse programs as well as providing support for high need communities based on low income and academic performance data.