School board approves grant application to add more Community Learning Centers

LINCOLN, Neb. - Lincoln Public Schools has 32 schools with at least 40% free and reduced lunch. But 26 of these schools, dubbed "Title One" schools, are working on improving lives for their students and their community with the addition of Community Learning Centers. The district says these centers not only offer a fun after school option, but also a way to improve community relations.

These CLC's are before and after school programs that allow children to play and learn in a safe environment.

"With CLC's, learning really goes beyond the regular school day," said CLC Director Nola Derby-Bennett. "We have hundreds of clubs that students can participate in during before and after school hours and it's so great to see that level of participation and support from the community."

Programs children can participate in range from gardening club to broadcast club to comic book club. The district says the options are so diverse because the community really supports the schools.

"I am always so impressed by how well-loved, well-used and well-supported the community learning centers are here in Lincoln," Derby-Bennett said.

Tonight, the school board approved two grant applications. One would renew funding for a portion of the current schools, while the other would add CLC's in three more schools including Lincoln High and Lincoln North East.

"The high schools are such a different situation," Derby-Bennett said. "It's not what you would typically think of for before and after school care, which a lot of people think Community Learning Centers are. I really think of it as pre-career exploration."

While CLC's are a safe, fun place for children to learn and play, the district says they also benefit the entire community.

"We want to be here for the students but we also want to be here for the families and for the neighborhood," Derby-Bennett said.

If the grant is approved, students could start participating in CLC programs starting the first day of the 2019-2020 school year.