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SFUSD to charge for after-school programs after losing funding

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Facing a $3.3 million loss in federal funding, the San Francisco Unified School District plans to charge parents fees for enrolling children in after-school and summer programs beginning next school year.

Families will be charged between $50 and $500 based on income when the school year starts in August after the district lost competitive grant funding from the U.S. Department of Education, according to ExCEL After School Programs Executive Director Mele Lau-Smith.

The federal grants for 21st Century Community Learning Centers funded programs in five middle schools and 30 elementary and K-8 schools in San Francisco through June, Lau-Smith said at the Board of Education Budget and Business Services Committee last week.

Lau-Smith said she does not anticipate that the funding loss “will reduce the services to families.” However, Cleveland Elementary School and Lakeshore Elementary School will no longer have money to offer before-school programs.

Kevin Truitt, chief of student, family and community support, said at the meeting that losing the grants is “unfortunate news,” but San Francisco has been lucky to win the grants in recent years.

“A couple years ago, we lost our high school [funding],” Truitt said. “Other than that, we have always gotten our grants. We’ve been worried that this day would come and the day is here.”

Nonetheless, Lau-Smith said that the district planned for the possibility of losing the funding for more than a year.

Of the $3.3 million, $2.5 million is spent on direct services for students. Lau-Smith said it is estimated that the district will be on the hook for $1.2 million of the direct services and charge parents for the rest of the shortfall.

Families who qualify for free or reduced lunch will not be charged in most cases, and the fees do not apply to homeless or foster youths, according to Lau-Smith.

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