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SLCSD Afterschool Program Hoping to Grow

A recent guest opinion and headline in the Salt Lake Tribune suggested our Afterschool Program was closed. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our Community Education Director, Kim Knettles, wrote this letter to help people understand what is happening in our robust and popular Afterschool Program.

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The August 27 guest commentary about the state of the Afterschool Program in the Salt Lake City School District contained some good information, but its headline was fatally flawed.

We are not closed.

We are operating and growing in over 30 school sites for the 2019-20 school year.  We are also working diligently to be able to have even more qualified, dedicated, and caring employee join the 130 + coordinators and group leaders already engaging with students in the out-of-school hours. We currently have over 1,500 students accepted and enrolled this year. And yes, there are around 854 other district students waiting to join our programs, and we would love to have that happen.

Utah’s economy is incredibly strong. With that comes a very low unemployment rate. Almost every company in the state can tell you how difficult it is to find willing and qualified candidates right now. With our current level of staffing, we are not able to provide safe and nurturing environments for all students wishing to participate in our programs, but we are working our hardest to change that.

Our recruiting efforts include posting with the Utah Department of Workforce Services, Monster, Handshake, Indeed, Dice, and local university and colleges. Both Community Education and the district’s Human Resource Services regularly attend and host job fairs and post flyers wherever we are able.  We encourage interested parties to look at our offerings at any of these sites or, they can save time and go directly to link to district job website to apply for the Community Education Group Leader posting.

Our Afterschool Program does not generate revenue for the district. The fees we charge are designed to only cover our costs, such as supplies, field trips, enrichment activities, and employee wages. We wish finding new employees was as simple as charging more for our services. However, doing so would have a drastic impact on our most needy families and students. Nearly 60 percent of our families qualify for free and reduced lunch, and they simply do not have the resources to pay more.

As the only district in the state with after school programming in all elementary and Title I middle schools, the Salt Lake City School District has recognized the vital contribution after school programs make to the economic, social, and emotional well-being of our community. We look forward to working with parents, our community, and local and state leaders to make after school programming a priority and to find more funding for such a valuable resource.

Sincerely,

Kim Knettles
Director, Community Education
Salt Lake City School District

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