After-school program nixed after one year

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Students in Johnsonburg are back in school, but for some, the after-school hours are a little quieter.

We have more on why the Johnsonburg Community Center cancelled the after-school program that was started last year.

“We do have quite a few children in town who go home to empty houses, and this was a way for them to stay active,” says borough council member Stephanie Carnessali, who’s also on a recreation committee.

Carnessali came up with the program for 4- to 12-year-olds to do homework, swim, and play.

“The bus would bring them right to the community center right after school, and they’d stay there up until 6:00,” says borough manager Mary Polaski.

The center says 12 to 15 kids took part, with that number dropping during the year. This year, not many kids ever applied, so the program did not return.

“We needed 20 students and we didn’t get 20 students. We only had eight,” says recreation director Christine Bressler.

Carnessali says some grants didn’t return this year, yet she still wanted two teacher’s aides to supervise.

“We needed to have a certain number of kids to be able to pay them and most of the time, grants won’t cover wages,” says Carnessali.

Polaski says the council didn’t want to step in, and that a 1.7-mill real estate tax already generates about half of the center’s $100,000 budget.

“They didn’t want the program to cost the borough taxpayers any money. The kids were paying a little tuition fee and they did have a grant from Stackpole-Hall [Foundation],” says Polaski.

“If we had had enough students, it would have carried itself,” says Bressler.

Tuition was $15 per week. The company that used to own the paper mill opened this building in 1919 to help the town, but more recently the center has struggled for funding.

Polaski says things are looking up with addition of a second part-timer to keep the center open for more hours in the afternoon, and a new exercise room added with a grant.

However, some people feel kids are now missing out.

“For the children that were doing it, I believe it really helped them, kept their grades up, gave them that outlet that they needed, and it’s a shame that it’s not available for them,” says Carnessali.

Right now, Bressler says gymnastics and some of their other programs are doing well, and they hope people will continue turning out for those.

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February 07 2021 06:30 pm

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