School Board Cuts Afterschool Transportation

Shame, shame on the Indian River County School Board for allowing transportation services for at-risk students to afterschool programs in the community to lapse!  Shame on you for postponing any public discussion on the topic to the very end of your meeting (10 pm) instead of its usual place at the beginning of the meeting agenda so that parents and their children had to go home to be ready for school the next day.

As a member of the team that created the federal afterschool program, 21st Century Community Learning Centers, I can assure you that the research shows that afterschool programs can bolster students’ development and academic achievement—especially students at high risk—and help working families work in the after-school hours.  Eight in ten parents say afterschool programs give them peace of mind and help them keep their jobs. My housekeeper, told me she would never have been able to support her two girls as a working parent without afterschool programs in the community. They make a difference on our economy.

They help our children most of all.  Research from the Afterschool Alliance shows us that students who attend afterschool programs develop strong social skills, are excited about learning, improve work habits and grades, improve school day attendance, have higher graduation rates, and explore career paths and gain workforce skills.  After attending an afterschool program, 65 % of students improve their homework completion and class participation, 60 % of students improve their classroom behavior, and 1 in 2 students improve their math and reading grades.  In our community, the Gifford Youth Achievement Center reports that they have increased high school graduation rates for African Americans from 23% to 80% over the last 20 years.

These statistics are important in Indian River County because our at-risk students are doing so poorly.  In 2017, Indian River African American student achievement on the Florida State assessment report on closing the “achievement gap” (level 3 or above on the Florida assessment) have an achievement gap with other African American students in the State of:  10 percentage points below in science;  9 percentage points below in math; and 7 percentage points below in English language arts.  Also, Indian River County’s African American students have more than a 30-percentage point gap in obtaining a passing score (at least a level three score) with Indian River White students on each of these subjects.

If the citizens of Indian River County want a well-educated workforce that can thrive and support our economy, we will need every tool in the education toolbox to help our students succeed.  Shame on the Indian River School Board for showing their blatant disregard for our students and their families.  We must demand that afterschool transportation is restored so that all our children have the life chances they deserve.

The Democrats of Indian River are working to help working families and seniors.  Join us. Be part of the solution.  Our children and families deserve more.

Adriana de Kanter