Buffalo school officials are close to reaching an agreement with the leaders of Say Yes Buffalo on the details of a scaled-back after-school program intended to help students in low-performing schools.
David Rust, executive director of Say Yes Buffalo, presented the basic framework of the plan to members of the Board of Education at a Wednesday night meeting.
The looming resolution comes about a month after leaders of Say Yes and the school district acknowledged that they were having trouble figuring out how to pay for the ambitious after-school program, which Say Yes developed with the help of community partners.
“We’ve made a lot of progress over the past month,” Rust said. “We also understand there’s a cost to this. We look forward to a renewed and strong partnership.”
Rust said that he hopes details will be finalized and information will be ready for principals by next week so the program can start Feb. 3.
The revamped after-school program is designed to complement what students learn during the school day, with activities such as enrichment programs, tutoring, and credit-recovery and career readiness for high school students.
Many of those activities are tailored to individual schools at the request of principals.
The program also includes measurable benchmarks, including attendance and student performance.
Even with the progress between the district and Say Yes officials, several board members expressed concerns about a lack of details about the curriculum.
“We’ve heard a lot of this before,” said board member Theresa Harris-Tigg, saying that she wanted more specifics about how the after-school program would align with what is taught during the school day.
Say Yes originally wanted to offer after-school programs in 28 schools, five days a week, two hours a day, starting in October. That plan would have cost $14 million.
But with school officials grappling with a $35 million budget gap this year, details of a much smaller effort began to emerge last month.
Now, the plan will likely involve offering the Say Yes program at eight schools. In addition, the district will offer grant-funded after-school programs at 15 other schools. While the original $14 million plan would have served about 9,300 students, the scaled-back version will reach at most 5,665 and cost the district only between $2 million and $2.5 million. Some of the savings comes from the fact that the school year will be more than half over before the program starts.
The percentage of students served in each school is based on its academic standing.
Rust said that Say Yes also is committed to helping subsidize the cost of the program, if the number of students who request a spot exceeds the funding available.
“We won’t turn students away,” Rust said.