Modified after-school program mulled

After a setback, the Headwaters Foundation is discussing getting an after-school program started in the Rappahannock public school system this fall.

“It will be the same program in spirit, if not for as many students” as originally envisioned, said Toni Egger, Headwaters executive director.

That plan took a hit when the county’s board of supervisors in December declined to provide $30,000 in seed money to get the program started. There were concerns expressed about the cost and accountability.

The program was envisioned as an enrichment offering for students in grades one through seven with older students in grades eight through 12 recruited to serve as mentors, coaches and tutors. The younger students would be involved in activities such as fine arts (photography, painting, etc.), science (gardening, experiments, etc.), performing arts and sports.

The two-day per week program ending at 6 p.m. at the elementary school would have a part-time director and an adult volunteer. An advisory board would oversee the program. There would be 4-H and Virginia Cooperative Extension assistance with some of the educational programming.

Parents with children participating in the voluntary program would be assessed a fee. Donations were also being sought cover costs.
The Headwaters board will be meeting Feb. 25 and 26 “to see what we can tackle financially” to get it started, Egger said.

Headwaters may not be able to accommodate as many students but the program would essentially be “what we outlined,” she said.
She noted Headwaters and the school division operate on a fiscal year that runs from July 1 through June 30.

“What we hope to do is to try to raise the money for a program on a smaller scale. It will be ‘build it and they will come’ in terms of financing. We expect to be able to grow the program. We are looking at ways to make it happen.”

Headwaters was founded in 1997 by a group of public school parents to provide independent support for the school system. It provides scholarships and awards to students, mini-grants to teachers for innovative classroom projects, staff development opportunities, runs the Next Step program to help students with their post-high school plans and the Starfish Mentoring program, and sponsors the Farm-to-Table that offers instruction to students in horticulture and encourages the planting of gardens at school.

Headwaters has also offered to pay the tuition of high school students simultaneously taking college courses who are in financial need. It has also offered to cover the fee for 10th- and 11th-grade students to take the PSAT test. The PSAT serves as a practice for the SAT test that’s used by colleges to screen applicants. Taking the PSAT also helps students to obtain scholarships if they do well on it.

“Many schools now require it [the PSAT] and we have told the school system that if you require it we will pay for it,” Egger said.

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James Ivancic is a reporter for the Fauquier Times in Warrenton, Va. Contact him at jivancic@fauquier.com.