On any given school day roughly 1,000 kids across 13 school sites are taking advantage of the City of Turlock after school programs, but the programs’ beginnings in the late 1990s were far more modest: there was only one student and two staff at Crowell Elementary School.
“We have grown by leaps and bounds since then,” said Recreation Supervisor Karen Packwood at the Parks, Arts, and Recreation Commission meeting Wednesday evening, where she gave an update on the City’s plans for summer and after school programs.
The City now administers two types of after school programs: the grant-based ASES (After School Education and Safety) program and the fee-based PLAY (Positive Leisure Activity for Youth) program.
ASES services 90 students at Brown, Crowell, Cunningham, Wakefield, and Osborn Elementary Schools as well as 140 students at Turlock Junior High School. The City of Turlock receives approximately $488,000 every school year from Proposition 49 funding to administer the program, which includes staffing and supply costs.
“We are full for this year and we still have waiting lists,” said Packwood. “Due to the demand of the program we have already started registration for next year and that started in February.”
ASES offers additional academic assistance as well as character education, career path seminars from guest speakers, and even trips, which allow students to participate in events that they may not be able to take advantage of on their own. There is an application process and Turlock Unified School District ranks the students based on their academics and need for assistance.
“This program is a huge partnership with the Turlock Unified School District,” said Packwood.
The PLAY program allows students to create art projects, participate in recreation activities, receive homework assistance, and more. Packwood is currently in conversation with administration at Dutcher Middle School and Denair Middle School, who are interested in bringing the after school program to their schools as well.
“The attendance in the PLAY program has really increased in the last couple of years and we like to think that people have gone back to work and so they are in need of a safe place for their children to go after school,” said Packwood.
There are also “break camps” during the school breaks.
During summer many take advantage of the summer aquatics program which offers swim lessons, swim recreation, youth water polo, lifeguard training, and adult lap swim.
However, this year the schools’ summer break has been cut short due to a change in the school calendar so to compensate the City is hoping to offer an additional aquatics session at Colombia Pool instead of at the high schools as has been tradition.
“It’s kind of an unfortunate summer with the school district changing their calendar we are not going to be able to offer our typical four session of swim lessons at Pitman High this year and that is going to hurt us… Last year during our fourth session at Pitman we were able to serve 163 swimmers,” said Packwood.
Instead, the City has plans to offer the fourth session at Colombia Pool.