School's Out, Inc. recognized

Bethlehem program one of first to receive accreditation

A Bethlehem nonprofit company providing before- and after-school supervision for Bethlehem Central elementary students is one of the first such programs in the state to be recognized as performing above and beyond state standards by the After School Works! New York program.

A state membership association and official state affiliate of the National After School Association, After School Works this year selected 15 programs across the state for a pilot accreditation program, School's Out, Inc.'s Hamagrael Elementary operations being once of them.

There was about 50 standards we had to meet that go above and beyond the state requirement, said Executive Director Jayne Maloney. "It covers all aspects of the program."

School's Out, Inc. serves about 500 children daily at each of Bethlehem Central's six elementary schools, along with overflow instruction at a Delaware Avenue location. It's useful for parents whose schedules don't mesh well with the school day, as the program goes from 7:30 to 9:15 a.m. and 3:30 to 6 p.m. daily.

The after-school accreditation program will be expanded to examine other programs in the fall, and Maloney hopes that School's Out's other Bethlehem sites will receive recognition, as well, as the programming is largely identical across all six programs.

"We just haven't been formally recognized. We still are running quality programs right across the board," she said.

Kids participating in School's Out can choose from activities ranging from playing in the gym, arts and crafts, board games, computer activities and educational programs.

"It's a free choice program, so the kids kind of pick and choose what activities they want to be involved in, Maloney said.

For those workers at Hamagrael, the accreditation is an affirmation of the work the company has been performing for 25 years.

"We're all very proud, all the staff are pretty proud," said Danielle Cooper, site manager for the Hamagrael operations. She echoed Maloney's hope that the group's other locations will be recognized in the near future.

Besides meeting the needs of parents' schedules, the program works well for many college students who staff it. They can take care of the kids in the mornings and afternoons then head to class during the day.

"A lot of my staff are going to work to be teachers or social workers," said Cooper.

School's Out rents district facilities for $44,000 annually, by far the largest user of school facilities. Annual usage fees are expected to increase to $53,000 under a new facility usage fees schedule recently approved by the school board.


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