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An agreement with the Greater Buffalo YMCA to provide a latchkey program at Pioneer Middle School was approved by the School Board this week.

Assistant Superintendent Jeffrey Bowen said the program targets mainly fifth- and sixth-graders who need supervision before and after the middle school day.

He said school officials turned to the YMCA after they had a difficult time finding a part-time candidate to run the program.

School officials said the latchkey program has been run successfully throughout the district for several years, but Bowen said this is the first time the YMCA has led a latchkey effort at Pioneer.

"This is a pilot project for the 'Y' to render the program," Bowen said. "We have been unable to find anyone qualified to run it."

He said the program will serve as many as 10 children and will operate out of the middle school. Bowen said more staffing could be provided if the need arises.

Parents pay for the service, which he said also can provide students with an educational experience.

Bowen said the program provides arts and crafts along with recreational activities.

"Many districts have latchkey programs," he said. He said such programs are already in place at Delevan and Arcade elementary schools.

The approved contract for the middle school will run from Oct. 17 to June 30. Bowen said school officials hope to get the program running for the 2001-2002 school year at the middle school as soon as possible.

School officials this week also received more information about a proposed faculty/student mentoring program at Pioneer Middle School.

Program goals include providing students with role models along with increased after-school activities and support, according to Cheri Puffer, Academic Center instructor, and Kimberly Boberg, school counselor.

Teachers or counselors will refer students to the proposed program. They said the program will take place during school hours and will include 15 to 20 students.

Each mentor will take on one or two students. Mentors and students are also proposed to take part in one after-school activity a month.

Boberg and Puffer asked that they present the proposed project to the School Board later.

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