LPS Board reviews Community Learning Centers, role they play for thousands of students

Published: Oct. 26, 2021 at 8:39 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) -Every day after school, hundreds of Lincoln Public School Students don’t head home, instead they attend after-school programs called Community Learning Centers. This school year those programs came with a price tag of nearly $10 million. On Tuesday the Board of Education will be learning more about the kids involved and if these programs are making a difference.

If you sat in on one of these centers, you’d see kids working with technology, dancing, gardening and crafting. But it’s not just for fun.

“When students attend CLC programs, I hope they find their place,” said Nola Bennett, CLC Director. “That’s always my goal is that every student who attends feels connected.”

The CLCs are in 29 LPS Title I schools, and while the program has been around for decades, it was expanded in 2018 after the Parkland, Fla. school shooting sparked a community-wide conversation on school safety and the Safe and Successful Interlocal Agreement was created.

“It’s about relationships,” said Bennett. “We know is the better relationships students have the more likely they are to ask questions. To just be present.”

Bennett said that reduces behavioral concerns down the line.

Since 2017, when the district started tracking these numbers, CLC’s have served an average of 6,900 students a year. Though they served a little less during the pandemic.

“We anticipate those numbers will come back,” said Bennett.

A review of the CLC’s participation over the last five years show 67% of CLC students are on free and reduced lunch, 47% are students of color, 20% are in special education classes and 8% are English language learners.

“That’s by virtue of the schools we serve,” said Bennett. “And that’s the population we intend to serve.”

As for what’s next, the district is going to start comparing the grades and behaviors of students involved in the CLC compared to those who are not.

“I would hope attendance is better, in school suspension rates are lower,” said Bennett. “And that overall GPA and academic performance is better.”

Also on the agenda is the approval of the district’s contracts with the non-profits they work with to put on the CLCs. They work with groups like the Boys and Girls Club, CEDARS and Civic Nebraska.

For more information on CLCs, Click Here.

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