State funds for afterschool to come to The City

City and school district officials are awaiting an announcement from the state that will bring millions of dollars of new afterschool program funds into San Francisco, potentially opening up 1,000 new student slots for the popular programs.

The money would come from Proposition 49, a 2002 initiative by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger — before he was voted into office — that has been on hold in the years since, waiting for the state's economy to improve.

An increase in state revenue this year has triggered Proposition 49's implementation. The initiative requires that $548 million be allocated for fiscal year 2006-2007 — up from the $122 million currently provided for afterschool programs, according to the state Legislative Analysts Office. Under Prop. 49, this will be a “continuous appropriation,” meaning no annual legislative action is needed to appropriate these funds in future years.

Now, the state education department is just waiting for implementation legislation to pass. Senate Bill 638 is scheduled to have a hearing before the Assembly Appropriations Committee on August 9. If it sails through, as expected, applications for funds could go to school districts by the start of the school year, said California Department of Education Program Consultant John Malloy.

At that point, school districts would have a “very small window” of about six weeks to apply for the funds — and allocations in future years will be based on a foundation of this year's applicants.

“The train's stopping once, get on it and get the funding, because then the train goes on,” Malloy said.

San Francisco, which currently has between 22,000 and 29,000 students participating in afterschool programs — on and off school sites, many through community-based nonprofit organizations — is in line to receive between $3 million and $5 million of new funding under Proposition 49.

Since Prop 49. requires a matching grant equal to 33 percent, The City has allocated an additional $2.2 million into this year's proposed budget to leverage the new funding.

Although state lawmakers, as well as the Legislative Analyst, have said that California can't afford the “autopilot” spending plan, city and school leaders have clamored for more afterschool dollars, seeing the programs as a means to restore arts and other extracurricular programs into a student's day, an avenue to direct kids out of trouble, and a way to support parents with childcare that extends beyond the school day.

beslinger@examiner.com

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