School district starting free afterschool program with federal grant

The Blaine school district is starting a free afterschool program this fall for up to 150 primary and elementary school students thanks to a federal grant.

The program, called Blaine Thrives, will go from 2:50 to 5:20 p.m. every day, starting Monday, October 14. It’s funded by the 21st Century Community Learning Grant.

This program will not be extended to the Point Roberts Primary School, but Point Roberts students who attend Blaine Elementary School may apply to participate.

The Blaine Thrives afterschool program will be educational, but will also include non-academic field trips and activities. It will offer bus transportation, snacks and monthly community meals for participants’ family members.

The district plans to give a registration form for the program to all elementary and primary students. If more than 75 students per building apply they will begin a screening program. Together, the primary and elementary school had about 1,000 students last school year.

The school district hasn’t decided on criteria for selecting applicants, said Ashley Walser, special education teacher at Blaine Elementary School and director of the grant programs.

“We want to reach kids that have some academic needs,” she said.

The program has 18 staff members – four teachers and five paraeducators per building.

This is the first program that the district is taking on with money from the 21st Century Community Learning Grant, which it applied for last spring. It also has plans for an English literacy course for adults starting in October, and the grant will also enhance the district’s summer school program, Walser said.

According to the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, which oversees the grant program for Washington state, the 21st Century Community Learning Grant is intended to support academic enrichment opportunities during non-school hours for children, particularly students who attend high-poverty and low-performing schools.

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