Grant funding for the after-school program in the Plattsburgh City School District will run out in June 2012.

But that won't mean the end of the 21st Century Learning Center sites here, officials say.

"Our plan is to continue to have the after-school program when the grant is up," said James "Jake" Short, Plattsburgh City Schools superintendent. "But we will have to alter certain aspects of it."

If the same 21st Century funding becomes available, the district will reapply, he said. The same goes for other grants, should any turn up.

"We always look to make decisions that will be advantageous to our community," said Short. "Of course, we don't want the money to come out of the taxpayers' wallets."

The four-year 21st Century grant, from the state Education Department, funds the Learning Center sites at City School District's elementary schools, Bailey Avenue, Oak Street and Momot, along with one at Stafford Middle School and another at Ted K. Community Center.

The district won the grant to help close achievement gaps and make positive differences in the lives of youths and their families.

"The focus is to provide high-quality academic enrichment as well as drug- and violence-prevention programs, technology education programs, art, music, and recreation programs, and counseling and character education," the district's website says.

Tuition is free for some and, depending on qualifications, costs monthly fees of $5, $25 and $75 for others. Short said another form of sliding-scale tuition might be implemented when funding runs out.

LIKE A SEED

And the program itself may be altered once its funding stream changes, although what would be in its place is yet to be determined.

"We're 18 months out right now, so we're in the very early stages of developing committees of parents, administration and community agencies," said Diana Lavery, 21st Century Learning project coordinator. "At this point, decisions have not been made, but we certainly are discussing what everyone can provide."

"The grant was like a seed," said Short. "It gave the money that allowed us to start, but once it is up, it will be up to us to keep the program going."

It has been a success so far, he said, with a rise in test scores and improvement in social development among children who participate. According to Short, any changes made would not affect such outcomes.

"The new program might not be exactly the same, but it will still have the same positive effect," he said.

The fall 2012 Learning Centers would still continue a partnership with the YMCA to provide programs for the children, for example.

"The money was very helpful, and it served its purpose wonderfully," Short said. "We definitely plan to continue to run our model program that's great for kids and for working parents.

"Whether it's through state or federal money, we will find a way to fund it."

— News Editor Suzanne Moore contributed to this report.

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