By Mary-Justine Lanyon
Students in transitional kindergarten through sixth grade will soon be able to take advantage of the Expanded Learning Opportunities Program (ELOP).
This state-funded program adds no less than nine hours of on-campus time for students in addition to their regular instructional day. Snacks and meals will be included, as will transportation to students who attend a Rim campus where ELOP is not offered.
Sixth-grade students at Mary Putnam Henck Intermediate School will be bused to the elementary school ELOP site in the community in which they live.
In her presentation to the Rim of the World Unified School District board of trustees on Oct. 19, Kaylee Bunyea, the ELOP coordinator for Rim, said part of the purpose of this program is to “fill family needs for childcare.”
ELOP will be offered on campus at Charles Hoffman, Lake Arrowhead and Valley of Enchantment elementary schools as after-school enrichment every school day as well as 30-plus days during the summer.
The program, which will take place in two ELOP-specific rooms at each site, will be open until 5:30 p.m. every school day. However, Bunyea noted, parents can pick their students up at any time; the students do not have to stay until 5:30.
During the summer, the program will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Priority enrollment in this free program will be given to unduplicated students – low income, foster youth, homeless youth and EL students. Registration will then be open to all families as space remains available.
Families, Bunyea noted, “have the flexibility to enroll their children in ELOP for any days of the week they desire. There is no requirement for a child to attend all week long.”
The after-school program will offer snacks while the summer program will have breakfast and lunch available.
There will be one ELOP site lead at each location with multiple instructional aides. The state-mandated ratios for ELOP are 10:1 for TK and kindergarten students and 20:1 for first through sixth-grade students.
In response to an interest survey, 43 families from CHE expressed interest, 42 from LAE and 35 from VOE for a total of 120.
And what will students be doing during this expanded learning time?
“Expanded learning opportunities is not an extension of instructional time,” Bunyea said. Rather, it is intended to give students the opportunities to engage in enrichment, play, nutrition and other “developmentally appropriate” activities.
Academic activities will include a homework hour and tutoring support.
Enrichment activities are expected to include art, music, cooking and nutrition, STEM activities, sports and recreation, computers and coding, and social and emotional skills.
Bunyea told the board of trustees her goal is to start the program the week after Thanksgiving. “We have to have the rooms ready and the staff hired,” she said.
Interim Superintendent Mike Whisenand noted that ELOP was just an idea in July. “From then to today, Kaylee has developed a program and addressed needs. This program is going to be huge.”
Because Whisenand’s time as interim superintendent was coming to an end due to contractual stipulations, the board in closed session unanimously appointed Dr. Garrett Rutherford as the new Rim interim superintendent.
In other personnel news, the board also confirmed the appointment of Laura Roque as assistant principal at MPH. Addressing Roque, Assistant Superintendent Shannon Hansen said, “You have been a tremendous asset to MPH and the district in your previous role. You and Terry (Gomes, the newly appointed principal) work well together.”
Roque’s response was, “I am proud to be part of the family.”
The board also discussed the feasibility of a bond and its timeline. President Bill Mellinger said three things make a bond a necessity: security issues around all campuses; significant ventilation and air conditioning issues; and infrastructure-related issues such as roofing and plumbing that cannot be taken care of with the general budget.
“Now is the time to go for a bond,” Mellinger said. “The school district is valued, respected. We would be irresponsible if we don’t move forward with it,” suggesting that November 2024 would most likely be the appropriate time.
Whisenand said there are some dates available to hold a special board meeting with a bond presentation by the consultants being used by the district. Mellinger said such a meeting will be scheduled.