GJSD to provide free LEAPS after school academic enrichment program for 180 elementary students in partnership with Mental Health Association in Fulton and Montgomery Counties

After a very competitive application process, the Greater Johnstown School District has qualified to participate in New York state’s Learning and Enrichment After School Program (LEAPS) through funding granted to the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), who will partner with the non-profit Mental Health Association (MHA) in Fulton and Montgomery Counties to operate and oversee the after school program in the District.

GJSD qualified for the opportunity because 50% or more of the District’s families are considered “economically disadvantaged,” based on NYSED data from 2022 and 2023. The $660,000 in funding each year will provide free after school academic support and enrichment opportunities to 180 students in grades K-6 — 60 students from each of the three primary schools in the District. The program, which will run school days from 2:45-6 p.m. and follow the school calendar, is contracted to run for a five-year span, beginning with the 2024-2025 school year. The program is slated to start in Johnstown on Monday, September 9, 2024.

“This is the opportunity of a lifetime for our District, for our students, and for our families,” said Assistant Superintendent Alicia D. Koster. “This comprehensive program will allow us to provide after school enrichment, academic support, quality out-of-school time, and expand students’ access to social and emotional support services, all with the goal of enhancing the overall wellbeing of our students,” she added.

“We are thrilled to be able to join forces with the Greater Johnstown School District to bring this amazing opportunity to Johnstown families,” Executive Director for MHA in Fulton and Montgomery Counties Janine Dykeman said. “Our mission is to provide resources to members of our community, and the LEAPS program is one of the most impactful ways that we can make a difference for our local families.”

The after school program will take place at three locations – Pleasant Avenue Elementary (for students in K & grade 1), Warren Street Elementary (grades 2-4), and Knox Middle School (for students in grades 5 & 6) – and will host 60 students at each site. The program will have access to the building’s classrooms, art room, media center/library, cafeteria, gymnasium, playground, and outside areas. Free meal service and snacks will also be provided to students.

Registration for the program will take place in early summer, with information being disseminated to GJSD families through ParentSquare, and letters sent home to K-6 families. Acceptance into the program will be on a first come-first served basis, based on completed applications being returned. If all slots are filled, names will be added to a waiting list. 

“This granted program will provide a very in-depth scope of benefits for the students and families that participate,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. William Crankshaw said. “Our families need this type of support from their school and their community now more than ever. Our partnership with the Mental Health Association in Fulton and Montgomery Counties is a wonderful example of how two entities can work together and combine resources to make a real difference for students. $3,300,000 of funding over five years is a real gift to this District and gives us the ability to offer this program at no cost to families, and without additional taxpayer dollars,” he added.

It is important to note that this is truly an academic enrichment program where students will have a daily agenda of organized, purposeful, age-appropriate activities. The program is not intended to be a “drop in” child care service. Students will realize the full impact of the program with daily attendance, five days a week, and coordination with school sponsored activities and events. 

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