‘It’s a win-win situation’: D-11 starts free before and after school program at 2 elementary schools

A sign outside Mark Twain Elementary School in Colorado Springs advertises D-11's new before and after school program on Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Students in Colorado Springs School District 11 head back to class Wednesday, and some students now have the opportunity to go to school early and stay late.

For the 2019-2020 school year, D-11 is offering free before and after school programming at James Monroe and Mark Twain elementary schools.

“This is an opportunity for us to expand our kids’ learning opportunities and to be able to look at learning in a different way,” said Lynn Boskie, Twain’s principal.

The program will be offered starting and 6 a.m. and ending at 6 p.m.

“So if you were here for the before program and the after school program, that would be an additional five hours of instruction each day,” said Carole Frye, Monroe’s principal. “Right now, our students are engaged in a six-and-a-half hour day. So this almost doubles the amount of time that we would have to impact our students and bring opportunities to their doorstep that get them excited about the world around them.”

Even though it sounds like a long day, both principals say the students will be engaged and involved in opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise get to experience, focusing on STEM and STEAM programming.

“We want to provide students an opportunity for programs that not necessarily all kids have access to, and this gives us an opportunity to provide that access free of cost and stuff, and sometimes that hinders people from having those opportunities,” Boskie said. “So I think that’s a huge opportunity.”

D-11 said it’s piloting the program at these two elementary schools because the communities had an interest and a need for before and after school care.

“When I first came to the school two years ago, that was a lot of the feedback we were hearing from parents was, ‘How can the school think differently about serving families and communities on this side of town?’ and offering enrichment before and after school so that families can engage in work opportunities or sort of other opportunities in their lives as they need to,” Frye said.

Students also recognize the importance of program like this.

“Because my mom, she has to work and stuff, and I’m excited for after school care because so my mom can be at work, and I can be having fun and having fun with new friends,” said Jaylynn Sharp, a third-grader at Monroe. “You could hang out with them after school, you know. You could just make more friends. The more the merrier.”

Each school can accommodate up to 50 students in the program. As of Monday, D-11 said 36 students were signed up at Monroe and 45 were enrolled in the program at Twain.