Winter recreation programs for 16,000 Philadelphia kids will continue, thanks to an agreement reached this week between the city and the School District of Philadelphia, which agreed to split the cost of the programs.
“This is a smart, collaborative approach to provide high-quality services to young Philadelphians using limited public resources,” said Mayor Michael Nutter. “In addition to strong academic programs, extracurricular activities are vital to the health and development of well-rounded students.”
The city’s Parks and Recreation Department administers recreational programs that serve more than 42,000 children. About 16,000 of those slots operate in Philadelphia School District facilities, in areas of the city that don’t have enough city-owned facilities.
Under the terms of the deal announced Tuesday, the school district will fund city recreation programs at 80 of 105 schools, and the city will fund longer hours for programs at the remaining 25. The changes, when coupled with staffing changes and a reduction in hours for some programs, will save the school district an estimated $1.8 million and cost the city approximately $338,000 for the five-month season that starts Nov. 5.
At the 80 schools funded exclusively by the district, after-school programs will operate from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on weekdays. At the schools that get added city funding, the programs will operate from 6 to 8:30 p.m. weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays to accommodate additional programs.
The 25 schools with longer hours are: Taggert, South Philadelphia, Carroll, Greenfield, Sayre, Lincoln, West Philadelphia, Turner, Lamberton, Overbrook, Roxborough, Saul, Shawmont, Kelley, Strawberry Mansion, Frankford, Fels, Edison, Wagner, Leeds, Woodrow Wilson, Baldi, Rush, Washington, Fox Chase and Northeast.
“We appreciate this partnership with the city of Philadelphia to expand access for youths involved in athletic and cultural programs,” said Superintendent William Hite Jr. “After-school programs add immense value to the lives of our students and the community. I would like to thank the mayor and our city leaders for supporting our students, families and community organizations.”
The city and district reached a similar agreement in February, splitting funding for rec programs last season. That agreement cost the city $189,000 for February and March.
Both the city and the district have been dealing with an ongoing budget crunch that prompted policy changes for both. As part of the agreement reached earlier this year, groups that wanted to use school facilities after hours and were not registered with the city had to pay between $57 and $72 an hour to do so.