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September 5, 2013

Schools, families looking for CROP alternatives

Cooperstown Crier

---- — With the news this summer that the state would not be funding the CROP program in Otsego County for the 2013-14 school year, families and schools have been scrambling to find alternatives for after-school programs.

Cooperstown, Milford and Cherry-Valley Springfield central schools had all received state funds for after-school care in the Creating Rural Opportunities Partnership program. More than 200 students participated last year at the three schools. At Cooperstown alone, there were about 100 participants plus 50 more applicants, according to Superintendent C.J. Hebert.

At CV-S, the program will continue as a paid program, according to Interim Superintendent Richard Rose.

“The district had to decide if it was worth having even if we had to fund it ourselves,” he said. “The decision we came to was, yes, it is worth having.”

Rose said about 60 students are currently signed up, and that his understanding is that the program has had as many as 100 students when it was the CROP program.

“We are beginning to charge those families who can afford to pay for it,” he said. “We will continue to provide it at a discount or for free for low-income families.”

In Milford, the program has been disbanded. According to a letter from the former CROP director, Miriam Murray, an attempt to organize a new program at MCS failed because of a lack of interest.

“The number of responses fell far short of the number required to fund the program,” Murray’s letter said. “Due to this lack of enrolled students, MCS is unable to pursue the proposed after-school program.”

In the town of Hartwick, near Cooperstown and about 8 miles from MCS, the Brookwood School is preparing for an increase in attendance for its after-school care, according to head of school Gina Reeves.

“A lot of it is wait and see, (but) more people have definitely signed up,” she said. “Obviously we can’t do it for nothing, but we are definitely trying to help provide care for those families that need help.”

Reeves said that any children that qualify for free or reduced lunch programs will also qualify for a reduced rate on hourly after-school care.

“As an advocate for children, the most important thing for me is to figure out how we can help,” she said.

CCS has agreed to offer a bus from the schools directly to Brookwood in the afternoons. Twice a week, they will also run a late bus from Brookwood to take children home.

“I am very thankful to the administration at Cooperstown for their collaboration,” Reeves said. “C.J. Hebert and (elementary principal) Teresa Gorman have been great to work with us so that we can make this work for parents.”

Reeves said she has also reached out to MCS officials to see if there is a way to bring kids from Milford.

“My understanding is that they are trying to see if they can work something out,” she said. “Obviously the biggest thing is transportation.”

CCS has also modified its transportation policy to include bus drop-off at the Clark Sports Center.