The Charlottesville school division is “actively pursuing” a partnership with the Piedmont Family YMCA to take over its after-school program, known as CLASS.
Discussions with the YMCA started a few weeks ago and details of how a possible partnership would work are still being figured out. Officials are expecting to make a presentation to the School Board at its March 5 meeting.
Atkins said partnering with the YMCA could help expand CLASS, which served 546 students last school year, according to budget documents.
“It doesn’t mean we’ll eliminate completely the waiting list, but it will absolutely expand our capacity to respond to the needs of our families,” schools Superintendent Rosa Atkins said at last week’s joint meeting of the School Board and City Council. “We’re really looking forward to that partnership.”
Registration for the after-school program is expected to start in early May.
This year, Burnley-Moran, Johnson, Venable and Greenbrier elementaries had waitlists. Atkins told board members and city councilors that her hope is to serve all the families who sign up during the initial registration window.
CLASS, which is self-sustaining, serves students in kindergarten through sixth-grade daily throughout the school year.
During those preliminary talks, “seamless transition” has been the watchword.
“The goal is that people won’t even know the difference,” said Jessica Maslaney, CEO of the Piedmont Family YMCA.
Bev Catlin, the CLASS coordinator, said that for the division, the transition would include maintaining the current programs at each school.
“That’s the staff that we have and the variety of experiences that we offer,” she said. “At the first meeting that we had, those were two of the big topics that we talked about.”
However, the division would remain involved with the program if the partnership materializes.
Maslaney said she was impressed by the school-specific curricula that CLASS staffers have developed.
“The fact that they already have this infrastructure in place is pretty amazing,” she said.
Last year, the YMCA took over the after-school program in Greene County and has a similar operation at its Crozet location, Maslaney said.
Tuition for CLASS and the YMCA is based on a sliding scale. Families also would have the opportunity to apply for YMCA scholarships to help cover the cost.
“To be able to continue to provide that accessibility to the community is another strength that the Y brings to the table,” Maslaney said.
Atkins said the division wants the YMCA to continue to use its schools as part of the partnership. Maintaining the affordability and accessibility of the program is a goal of the partnership.
At the elementary level, full-time fees range from $74 to $248 per month, depending on family income. At Walker Upper Elementary, the full-time monthly rates range from $67 to $220.
Catlin said the division has been looking at other options for CLASS over the last several years. As the economy has improved, demand for the program has increased while the division found it more difficult to staff it.
Last year, the division handed off its summer programs to the city’s parks and recreation department.
“It was a very smooth transition for us,” Catlin said.
CLASS started in 1976, and Maslaney said the program has a great reputation and leadership.
“They provide a valuable service to the kids in the school district,” she said. “The Y is interested in figuring out ways that we can be a partner with them to continue a lot of the great things they are doing.”