Student Well-Being

After-School Programs Proliferate; Funding, Staffing Seen as Problems

By Darcia Harris Bowman — September 19, 2001 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Public schools increasingly are providing after-school programs for young students, but many such efforts could be stymied by inadequate funding and staffing, according to a survey of 800 school principals released last week.

“Principals and After- School Programs: A Survey of Pre-K-8 Principals,” is available from the National Association of Elementary School Principals. (Requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.)

Two-thirds of principals in schools serving prekindergarten through 8th grade say that their schools or districts offer after-school programs, a dramatic increase in recent years, according to the National Association of Elementary School Principals. When the organization polled administrators in 1988, it found that only 22 percent of schools offered such programs. A national study by the U.S. Department of Education in 1993 still found that just 28 percent of all after-school programs were based in public schools.

“We were rather surprised to see the growth in the percentage of schools offering after-school programs. We knew they were growing, but they’ve done so at a much faster pace than we’d seen in the past,” said Vincent L. Ferrandino, the association’s executive director.

The increase in the number of after-hours, school-based programs is driven in large part by the needs of working parents seeking convenient, safe, and legitimate activities for their children when the regular school day ends, Mr. Ferrandino said.

Nearly all of the principals surveyed said their after-school programs were on school property and offered students help with homework. Nearly 80 percent also offered recreational sports, and 62 percent said they offered students some type of technology instruction.

Two-thirds of the principals said the after-school learning activities were linked with the instruction students received during the day. Newer after-school programs and those in poorer schools focused more on improving student achievement than did older programs and those in wealthier schools, the NAESP report says.

“These programs have changed dramatically over the past five years, from simply taking care of a child ... to programs focused a great deal more on academics and even leadership development, in addition to socializing,” Mr. Ferrandino said. “In many ways, these programs have allowed us to extend the school day.”

The Challenges

The principals in the survey reported that obtaining enough funding, finding and retaining good staff members, and securing transportation for students were the three biggest challenges facing their after-school programs.

In an open-ended question, 32 percent of the principals said a lack of staff was a main concern. Eighteen percent said funding was the primary problem, and another 18 percent cited transportation. Holding students’ interest, finding adequate space, and getting students to attend were also listed as challenges.

Those concerns are shared by other organizations that support after-school programming, said Judy Y. Samelson, the acting director of the Afterschool Alliance in Flint, Mich.

“One of our greatest challenges now is to figure out how to keep [programs] once we open them, because a concern of a lot of the principals is long-term funding,” Ms. Samelson said. “This report backs up the message we’ve tried to put out there that after-school programs are keeping kids safe, helping them academically, and parents want them.”

The NAESP survey revealed that finding and keeping qualified staff members was a particular challenge for programs that had been operating for more than five years, programs that served students in all grades, and programs in the Western part of the country. Financing was cited as a problem most often by principals from high-poverty schools, those from schools with programs established within the past five years, and those in the Midwest and West.

Government serves as the main source of money for after-school programs, the survey found. Local, state, and federal governments contribute a combined 48 percent of after-school funding; another 33 percent comes from fees and tuition charged to parents. Fewer than 10 percent of principals said they rely mainly on community or religious organization, businesses, foundations, or fund-raising activities.

The telephone survey was conducted for the NAESP in May and June by Belden Russonello & Stewart Research and Communications in Washington. The sample for the survey was drawn by the NAESP from its national list of public school principals, and half the principals polled were association members.

Related Tags:

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Law & Courts Webinar
Future of the First Amendment: Exploring Trends in High School Students’ Views of Free Speech
Learn how educators are navigating student free speech issues and addressing controversial topics like gender and race in the classroom.
Content provided by The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Start Strong With Solid SEL Implementation: Success Strategies for the New School Year
Join Satchel Pulse to learn why implementing a solid SEL program at the beginning of the year will deliver maximum impact to your students.
Content provided by Satchel Pulse
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Science Webinar
Real-World Problem Solving: How Invention Education Drives Student Learning
Hear from student inventors and K-12 teachers about how invention education enhances learning, opens minds, and preps students for the future.
Content provided by The Lemelson Foundation

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Student Well-Being Opinion How School Can Make Students (and Teachers) Feel Dumb
Our brains don’t all work the same way, writes an English teacher who has long struggled with spelling.
Patrick O’Connor
4 min read
Image of support given to a student who is struggling.
Laura Baker/Education Week, RamCreativ, and iStock/Getty
Student Well-Being Opinion Why SEL Turned Into a Political Football
Yet again, a school reform that makes some intuitive sense has gotten sucked into a roiling culture war.
4 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Student Well-Being FDA Ban on Juul E-Cigarettes Draws Praise From Youth Vaping Opponents
More than 100 school systems have sued Juul and other e-cigarette makers.
5 min read
Packaging for an electronic cigarette and menthol pods from Juul Labs, in Pembroke Pines, Fla., pictured on Feb. 25, 2020.
Packaging for an electronic cigarette and menthol pods from Juul Labs, in Pembroke Pines, Fla.
Brynn Anderson/AP
Student Well-Being What the Research Says Are Children Getting to Bed on Time? Here's What New Data Show
A CDC study finds that more than 1 in 4 children in poverty don't have set bedtimes on school nights.
2 min read
Image of reading at bedtime.
nattrass/E+<br/>