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Strengthened after-school program offers improved learning opportunities for Buffalo students

Quality after-school programs have been shown to have a profound effect on the lives of students, particularly those in poor, urban districts.

For those children whose parents are working in the late afternoon, filling those idle hours after school lets out offers the wrong type of opportunity. The temptation to stumble into trouble is always there.

Instead of doing homework, an unsupervised child might lock onto a video game controller. Or, much worse, find real trouble. The hours between the last school bell and parents’ return home are critical.

After-school programs give students a safe place to go, but to be truly helpful the activities need to be substantive. That wasn’t always the case in the Buffalo Public Schools. Some programs were better than others. Some opened with the start of the school year, others did not. Some ran Monday through Thursday. Some lasted only until 4:30 p.m.

Under Superintendent Kriner Cash, the district is focused on improving and expanding its after-school offerings. Much to the relief of parents who have complained about the quality, this year’s programming will be more robust, including academic enrichment and physical activity, along with transportation and a meal or snack. And that’s Monday through Friday.

This refocused effort checks at least most of the boxes for parents and students. The biggest weakness is the fact that the after-school programs will not begin until mid-October. We’re confident that with this year’s experience to build on, district officials will ensure that after-school programming in the future begins when it should, with the start of the school year.

Samuel L. Radford III, president of the District Parent Coordinating Council, offered that while the new model does not include everything parents want, this year’s effort has been a major improvement.

District officials are touting a more consistent after-school model with its three-part framework: reinforcing what is learned during the school day; encouraging well-rounded student development; and promoting healthy eating and activity.

Say Yes to Education, which has been invaluable in improving the district’s summer school program, will help track attendance and monitor the quality of the after-school programs.

The late start notwithstanding, the district is commendably investing time and money to provide support at a critical time.

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