WCSD to examine tutoring programs

Warren County School District officials will be attending a state-level meeting next month before making a recommendation about the status of tutoring and after-school programs in the district.

The federal grant that funds the 21st Century Community Learning Center program is set to expire later this year. Discussions have taken place at past school board meetings about the future of the program as the district enters budget season.

“We’ve lost a lot in the school day,” said Interim Director of Pupil Services Ruth Nelson during Monday’s Curriculum, Instruction & Technology Committee meeting, explaining that she is “not prepared to make a recommendation.”

“I need to go back and track (the) educational assistance program monies that provided small group tutoring throughout the day,” she said, of the tutoring program that was canceled several years ago as a budget casualty. “That worked in the elementary and middle but not high school.”

While the 21st Century Learning program, which covers grades 3-5, has a tutoring piece, Nelson said that the program is “after-school more than tutoring. If that money was to be available again, would I recommend it? Absolutely.”

She said the funding was designed to benefit economically disadvantaged students and 57 percent of Warren County students meet that standard.

But, she asked a key question. “Is that the best bang for your buck for our kids if you (the board) have to fund it?”

Nelson said she, along with Program Director Christine Haslett, will be attending a meeting in March and “want to see if the money is offered… then want to see if you are going to spend that money, how do you spend it.”

A monitoring report conducted by the Pennsylvania Department of Education Bureau of Teaching and Learning for the current program was also presented to the board.

Haslett said that the program met requirements on 68 of 70 items, received an “exemplary” designation regarding maintenance of attendance records as well as one noted “in development,” pertaining to a requirement to hold three Advisory Board meetings per year.

Of the exemplary designation, Haslett said, “(I) heard they don’t hand those out often.”

Board President Arthur Stewart asked how many students are “touched by the program, overall.” Haslett said 130 participate with “close to 70 kids at WAEC (Warren Area Elementary Center).”