Each year the parent/teacher association (PTA) at Lawton Elementary School in Magnolia funds the after-school homework club, a tutoring program that helps dozens of students who need it. But demand has outpaced supply, threatening the quality of the program.
The PTA spends about $5,000 a year for the hour-long program, which lasts through the school year and pays for basic supplies, some snacks and the wages of three instructors. Led by veteran librarian Kathleen Dial, who oversees two staffers and a handful of volunteers, the program is first rate. On average there are 12 students from third through fifth grade who come to the library for help in reading, writing and mathematics. These are cheerful and smart students who need that added one-on-one time to keep up in class. It's especially critical that after-hours tutoring is available earlier, not later, in a student's scholastic career. The dampened spirit of a young student is difficult, at best, to mend.
More students have been using the program - a good thing - but which has led to the early drainage of funds. The after-school tutoring program is free, so even the most economically disadvantaged have access. In some school districts that is not the case. As the program grows, so must the funding.
That the PTA must fund the program; that Seattle Public Schools has no room in their budget for these programs in the first place, is itself a crying shame. The Lawton PTA raises between $40,000 and $50,000 every school year to fund crossing guards, playground supervision, the homework club, in-class tutoring and the like. Programs like physical education, which touches the most students, get the most funding. Lawton PTA president Kimball Mullins says the PTA will have to consider a vote on whether to allocate additional funds to the homework club. We sincerely hope the Lawton PTA gives the after-school program the financial support it deserves. The government can talk all it wants about "No Child Left Behind," but it's programs like Lawton's after-school tutoring program - local funds going straight to the need - that make a real difference in our children's lives.[[In-content Ad]]