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Peekskill Schools Consider Extended-Day Program

Proposal for 3 elementary sites emphasizes physical activity, ‘family time’ atmosphere.

Peekskill’s elementary schools are considering a proposed extended-day program that would offer a variety of physical and other activities before and after regular school hours at no extra cost to the district.

The proposal by Orange County-based Healthy Kids Extended Day Program would offer physical and other activities, including a limited amount of homework time, at Woodside, Oakside and Hillcrest Elementary Schools. Expenses would be covered by parents and the Department of Social Services.

Steve Dwek, president of Healthy Kids, presented the proposal to the Board of Education Aug. 21. If questions involving school use fees and food are favorably answered, Healthy Kids would begin a licensing process through the state Office of Children and Family Services, which takes 4-6 weeks. If all goes well, the program could begin in October.  

Healthy Kids includes recreation, arts and crafts, board games, dance, drama, homework assistance and a snack in a “family time” atmosphere, Dwek told the board. Emphasis is on physical activity, since many youngsters do not get enough, he said. The program operates under state regulations and licensing and offers a staff-child ratio of 1:10. The staff hiring process gives priority to qualified local people.

Maxine O’Connor, director of pupil personnel services, said other school districts offered “glowing praise” of the program.

Healthy Kids, headquartered in New Windsor, describes itself as the largest provider of extended-day programs in the Mid-Hudson region, servicing 28 elementary schools in Dutchess, Orange and Westchester counties. It was established in 2003. A typical day begins at 7 a.m. and ends at 6 p.m. and serves youngsters up to age 12.

Board President Joseph Urbanowicz said the district would have to charge a “reasonable” fee for use of school buildings because Healthy Kids is a for-profit organization. The question of whether the fee could be waived and the space provided as a service to district families was referred to the schools’ attorney.

Dwek said he was agreeable to a reasonable fee to cover district costs for lights, heat, custodial and security services. His program pays a fee to Yonkers schools but not others, he said. He asked only that the district address its concerns promptly so he could begin the licensing process as soon as possible.

Regarding the food component, the district will have to make sure Healthy Kids does not conflict with any provisions of the contract with the district’s food service provider, said Gregory Sullivan, assistant superintendent for business.

Sullivan also noted a prospective fringe benefit of Healthy Kids—a potential savings in transportation costs, since participating families would be dropping off and picking up their children directly instead of using district buses. That in turn could free up some bus seats, enabling the district to accommodate families whose transportation needs have changed since the April 1 deadline.

joshua tanner August 27, 2012 at 07:37 PM
I feel sorry for kids today. They are dopped off like baggage to spend the day with the oddballs that make up the childcare workforce. What's a "family time" atmosphere when your family leaves you with strangers from 7 AM to 6 PM?
peekskillman August 28, 2012 at 01:28 AM
pls dont waive any fees, there are enough costs that the taxpayers are paying for already. If this is a for-profit, let them pay something towards all the utilities that are going to be used. On the surface this sounds like another "entitlement" for those that are too lazy to take care of their own children.
Kirsten Berger August 28, 2012 at 01:40 AM
Peekskillman, this is not an entitlement program. After school programs that are held at schools are always paid for by the parents who use the program and not by all the parents in the community. Someone who goes to work in the morning and can't get back by 3:00 to get their child off the bus because their job goes until 5 isn't lazy. They're making money to buy food, pay the rent, pay the bills. I don't think any single parents who have had trouble finding childcare for kids over the age of 8 (which is the cut-off for many day care center based after school programs) are going to be too happy with your comment.
Joe August 28, 2012 at 03:32 AM
My daughter goes to Oakside and I can't wait for the day I can move away and get her out of that environment that school should have metal detectors they offer nothing key word fils NOTHING! So let's get this "program" started snd see where it goes monitors need to do there jobs principal needs to step her game up!
Joe August 28, 2012 at 03:35 AM
First off Peekskill man people work not everyone has the pleasure of sitting home drinking beer all day maybe like yourself parents work and want there kids in after school programs ok moron so keep your comments to yourself because obviously you have no clue GENIOUS!
Ashley Elam August 28, 2012 at 04:06 PM
Oakside has had a bad reputation for at least 20 years (when I was a kid). I went to Hillcrest but all of us knew and saw the cop cars and the cops in and around that school almost everyday as kids. One point they actually had to expel some kids because of all the fights. Sad but true. I moved so my daughter wouldn't go to school in that district.

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