BLACKWOOD – The head of a popular afterschool programs group requested the state Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee restore the $3 million in state funds it’s slated to lose for the next fiscal year, calling the program “a cost effective school reform strategy.”
Mark Valli, president and CEO of New Jersey After 3, said he was grateful for the $3 million that was restored last year for the non-profit group. Originally, it was slated to lose all $10 million of the state funds it received two years ago.
The state cuts last year resulted in a lower number of kids in the after-school programs, from 12,500 kids to 5,000 kids in 34 schools.
In his testimony before the committee hearing at Camden County College, Valli asked the committee to leave the $3 million in state funds it allocated last year intact for Fiscal Year 2012.
The non-profit after-school programs of New Jersey After 3 run from 3 to 6 p.m. at 34 schools.
“When the state money dries up, the local money dries up too,” he said, referring to the private funds the New Jersey After 3 raises.
He said a three-year independent study found that students who participated in New Jersey After 3 programs saw improved language and study skills.
“The state’s getting a rate of return,” Valli said.
The senators praised New Jersey After 3.
State Sen. Sandra Cunningham, (D-31), of Jersey City, praised New Jersey After 3, saying its programs help keeps kids off the street by providing enrichment activities.
“You are extending the hours of learning time,” she said.
Sen. Anthony Bucco, (R-25), of Boonton, said he felt the program was beneficial and would try to find a way to restore the funds.
Sen. Brian Stack, (D-33), of West New York said the program serves as a good alternative for kids who would otherwise return to “an empty home” after school.