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Massena Board of Education gives go-ahead for Boys and Girls Club program at Jefferson Elementary School

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MASSENA - The Massena Central School District’s Board of Education has approved a memorandum of understanding that will allow the Boys and Girls Club of Massena to operate two days a week beginning this fall out of Jefferson Elementary School But, before the paperwork is signed, they want their attorney to review the one-page document and also add a termination clause that would allow them to end the arrangement if necessary.

“I think we should run this through our attorney to make sure we dot the I’s and cross the T’s,” board member Kevin F. Perretta said.

Board President John R. Boyce also suggested adding the termination clause.

As part of the agreement, the club will implement the Boys and Girls Club of America’s programming as an after-school program; make membership in the club available to all students; act as a host for after-school program activities and events; provide training for the club’s staff and volunteers; work with Jefferson’s staff and volunteers to devise programs that will “support the growth and progress of after-school participants;” and help recruit and train volunteer mentors for the after-school program.

In return, the school will make its facilities available for the programming and joint activities; act as a host site for after-school program activities and special events; work with club staff and volunteers to devise programs to support the growth and progress of participants; help recruit and train volunteer mentors; and identify appropriate students for referral to the program.

“There’s many programs throughout the Boys and Girls Club that we can incorporate. It’s a matter of finding the right fit for Jefferson,” Boys and Girls Club of Massena Program Chair Gabe Hinkley said.

Jefferson Elementary School Principal Duane Richards said they’ve been working since the end of the school year - and continue to have conversations - to come up with the partnership between the school and the club. He said he had originally met with Boys and Girls Club Board President Timmy J. Currier and Mr. Hinkley to see if the program was something of interest to the district.

They agreed that it would be helpful for Jefferson Elementary School students who were in need of extra help after school. The program will be held from 3-6 p.m. two days a week and can take in a maximum of 100 participants.

“It’s kind of a branch of the Boys and Girls Club that will take place prior to the opening of the Boys and Girls Club (in the former St. Joseph’s social hall on Bayley Road). It works out nicely. The final spot is just down the road,” Mr. Richards said.

Because they were applying for a grant, he said they rushed to put a program together. But that grant fell through. However, the Alcoa Foundation stepped up recently and provided the club with an $85,000 grant for the pilot program.

The initial target when the program begins on Oct. 7 will be Jefferson students in grades three through six, with staff members of the Boys and Girls Club running the program.

Teachers, however, will be in constant communication and coordination with the club’s staff to ensure they’re meeting the students’ needs, Mr. Richards said.

“The Boys and Girls Club will work cooperatively with teachers,” he said.

They selected an early October start date to allow teachers time to determine what students might benefit from the program, he said.

When the school day ends at 3 p.m., students in the program will report to a designated area, where they’ll be greeted by club staff members and have a snack provided by the school.

After that, they’ll rotate through three blocks - one where they’ll be able to meet in small groups with group leaders and volunteers to work on homework or particular assignments; another that will involve physical activities such as kickball or basketball; and a third that will include a hand-craft, craft-oriented activity.

Mr. Hinkley provided board members with a program summary that provided an overview of the program. It also lists the staffing plan, which includes one program director, one program coordinator, one senior program assistant, two program assistants and nine volunteers.

The document also lists their “performance targets” - what they plan to achieve with students.

For instance, in one performance target, they want to ensure that, of 80 program participants who are failing one or more subjects, 60 of them will pass one of the failing subjects or perform at state standards.

“Everything in the template is what Mr. Richards and his staff came up with. We do emphasize academics,” Mr. Hinkley said, noting that a “Power Hour” provides an opportunity to get their homework done with the assistance of the club’s staff and volunteers, all of whom are screened before they can work with the students.

Mr. Richards said the club will be required to have liability insurance and will provide the staff and supplies.

The school will provide the space, and parents will need to provide transportation to pick their students up at 6 p.m.

At this point, he said, the program will be limited strictly to Jefferson Elementary School students, with the possibility of opening it up to students from other schools in the future.

Mr. Hinkley also noted once the club opens its doors in the community there was a possibility they could keep the “satellite” program going at Jefferson.

“I hope it would be a long and lasting relationship with Jefferson,” he said.

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