CIVIC CENTER — Buoyed by the state legislature’s preliminary approval of funds last week, city officials are wasting no time in pushing ahead with plans to expand after-school programs for tens of thousands of middle school students starting in September.
The city is accepting proposals from organizations to provide new after-school programs for nearly 55,000 middle school students, at an estimated yearly cost of more than $131 million, according to an RFP released by the city. The new programs will nearly double the number of middle school students eligible to participate in an after-school program.
“We are in full swing across every city agency involved to iron out logistics and ready programs for launch this September,” Deputy Mayor Richard Buery, who is coordinating the after-school program efforts among city agencies, said in a statement.
Buery added that the state Assembly and Senate's “bipartisan consensus on funding the $530 million New York City needs" to pay for universal pre-K and after-school programs gave the city the boost it needed to move forward.
Under the terms of the city's requests for proposals, programs will get $3,000 per student to run Monday through Friday, from approximately 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. At least nine hours a week of the after-school programming must be devoted to “structured activities” related to in-school work, according to the RFP. The remaining time would allow for “unstructured” activities, which include counseling, tutoring and recreation.
The after-school program contracts will begin July 1, 2014, in anticipation of the school year beginning in September, and will last four years, with the option of renewing for an additional two years, according to the RFP.
Those eligible to apply include both public city schools and charter schools, on the condition that the charter schools have a 3 p.m. dismissal time.
Community-based organizations will have to partner with existing schools to be eligible, according to a city spokesman. They will also have to have at least three years of experience providing comprehensive after-school services, with preference going to groups already working with middle school students.
Program directors will also have a required minimum level of certification and experience, according to the RFP. City agencies plan to do reviews of the programs to make sure they’re being appropriately run and are delivering their promised level of quality.
Gregory Brender, who works on after-school issues for United Neighborhood Houses, said he was excited by the plans.
"The city has never tried to have after-school as a universal program. It’s always been the goal to target a few neighborhoods with the highest need," he said.
While he said the city will face challenges in rolling out such a large expansion of after-school programs, Brender said he expected the program to be up and running by September.
“Given the energy and demand we [are] getting from parents, this is just something we have to make happen,” he said.
Proposals are due by May 2.