Enquirer Herald

Clover schools consider private after-school care, enrichment

Leaders of the Clover School District are considering whether a private company should provide after-school programs for elementary students.

Representatives with Right at School, based in Evanston, Ill., presented what the company can offer for after-school support to Clover school board members during a Feb. 9 work session. Board members do not vote during work sessions.

“We didn’t invent after-school clubs, we just perfected it,” said Mark Rothschild, Ph.D., founder and CEO of Right At School.

Right at School offers in-school, extracurricular enrichment programs through before- and after-school care, as well as recess supervision. Following a healthy snack, enrichment classes include social entrepreneurs, public speaking, the homework zone, Olympic fitness, ecology explorers and yoga, according to rightatschool.com. The company has programs in 65 schools in Illinois and California, Rothschild said.

Julie Lyon, director of school partnerships for Right At School, said most popular Right Clubs, which use local expertise for instruction, include martial arts and chess club.

“We hope our program is so great, they don’t need other enrichment and come right to us,” she said.

Superintendent Marc Sosne said he became intrigued by the concept.

“Right at School’s educational component with experiential learning and discovery learning really piqued my interest,” Sosne said. “It’s about seeing our district improve and taking the after-school program to the next level.”

The district began soliciting applications through a state website earlier this month.

“This would be the first time since I’ve been here that private providers have an opportunity to submit proposals to us,” said Sosne, who has been leading the district since 2007. “It’s just a consideration.”

Clover School District currently uses Upper Palmetto YMCA programs for after-school care. Sosne said the YMCA program provides a great service, but is missing the educational component.

He said because the district has these children for three hours after school, it makes sense to make the time more educational.

“If we could offer motivating, enriching educational experience, as well as homework opportunities and physical activity, everyone benefits,” Sosne said.

Board member Liz Johnson raised questions about the cost of after-school care.

Sosne said the YMCA charges $50 per child a week. While a private company, like Right at School, might charge more, he said this company offers the school a rebate that could be applied toward scholarships. Plus, parents could pay on a daily basis rather than for the whole week, which might save them money.

Sosne said the program’s benefits will show in other ways, too.

“Principals like enrichment programs like this that transfer to better test scores,” he said.

Right at School schedules activity time.

“If you’re wanting something more defined and structured,” said board chairman Mack McCarter.

Rothschild stressed that employees undergo background checks and a stringent interview process, and instructional experts must be insured and undergo background checks.

“We take safety incredibly serious,” he said, explaining that only guardians can sign a child out. “But it’s a really fun program.”

Applications from private after-school programs are due Feb. 27. Sosne said he will evaluate the bids and make a recommendation to the board in March whether it should stay with the YMCA or go with a private company.

The board chairman will decide if the recommendation will go on the agenda or if the superintendent will be responsible for making the final decision.