Proposed 2018-19 Federal Budget eliminates funding for afterschool
President Trump recently released his first federal budget proposal, in which he proposed elimination of the only dedicated source of federal funding for afterschool and summer programs, the 21st Century Community Learning Center Program. The effect of these cuts in Nebraska would be dramatic – communities across the state receive about $5.5 million a year in 21st Century grant funds that help support 125 high-quality programs serving approximately 20,000 youth.
These proposed cuts reflect a lack of understanding of the vital role and impressive results these programs generate around the country, including in Nebraska. Both national and local data tell the same story – afterschool matters. Long-term evaluations show that when young people regularly participate in high-quality programs like Nebraska’s 21st Century grant supported programs, we see improvements in the critical ABCs: Attendance increases, Behaviors improve, and Course work improves. The benefits don’t stop there – a new study illustrates that Nebraska’s afterschool programs are also proven to have a significant impact in developing the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) knowledgeable workforce we need to power our future economy.
Local communities see the positive benefits of these programs daily. Two recent newspaper articles in Columbus and Lincoln discuss the importance of their afterschool programs and the impact that this proposed elimination would have on their communities.
New proposals enhance state climate for ELOs in Nebraska
In contrast to this shortsighted Federal proposal, two bills currently making their way through the Nebraska Legislature illustrate that even in these tough times, support for high-quality expanded learning opportunity (ELO) programs built on strong school-community partnerships is growing.
In the Education Committee, Senator Adam Morfeld (District 46) introduced LB 246, a bill that would allow districts to exceed their budget authority (but not their property tax levy limit) to support ELO programs through a vote of their elected local school boards. For districts with student populations over 1,000 students, the exemption could reach $100,000; for districts with 1,000 students or fewer, the exemption could be up to $50,000. BSB is very supportive of this local control, pro-ELO bill and glad to report that it made it out of the Education Committee with a 5-3 vote.
In the Appropriations Committee, Senator Rick Kolowski (District 31) introduced LB 270, a bill to provide $750,000 in funding to support the ELO Opportunity grant program. If enacted, this new funding would follow up and enhance the $250,000 that the Legislature authorized last year, funding which is being used right now to support new school-community partnerships in districts across the state.
Nebraska’s high-quality afterschool and summer learning programs need your support—please visit our website for the many different ways to advocate and show your support for these important programs that help children develop, support working families, and contribute to the Good Life in communities across Nebraska.
Jeff Cole, Associate Vice President of School-Community Partnerships