February 10. 2014 11:03PM

Manchester school board tables proposal on before-, after-school programs

Staff Report

MANCHESTER — Members of the Board of School Committee voted unanimously Monday night to return a proposal on expanding before- and after-school programs at Parker-Varney School to district administrators for further review after board members raised a number of concerns.

Board member Robyn Dunphy had some of the strongest objections, noting that if a child were dropped off at school two hours before classes began, the school day could be as long as 11 hours. Dunphy, an elementary school teacher elected to the board last fall, asked to table the proposal altogether. It was approved by a board subcommittee last month after the principal and a parent-teacher group requested a new program that would expand the hours the building would be available to children."The school district needs to keep focus on the responsibility of educating our students and not housing them," Dunphy said.

Other board members noted Parker-Varney and other schools on the West Side are farther away from groups such as the YMCA and Boys and Girls Clubs than East Side schools, so parents with jobs requiring them to get to work earlier have few options.

Others were concerned that the proposal did not address the additional costs, or say who would be running the new programs and supervising the children.

Board member Arthur Beaudry asked if the supervision would come from for-profit agencies and if so, suggested the district bill the groups for at least some of the costs of keeping the building open for the additional time. Board members questioned why the district would allow a company to come in and profit while the district foots the overhead.

There were enough questions that the board voted to send the matter back to district officials for more examination.