After-school funding still up in the air

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State Superintendent of Education Carey Wright speaks to reporters on Thursday after the department's budget hearing at the state Capitol.

Kate Royals, Mississippi Today

State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carey Wright speaks to reporters  after the department’s budget hearing Thursday at the state Capitol.

Nearly a month into the school year, a number of schools and districts across Mississippi still don’t know if they will have federal funding for after-school programs this year.

“Everything is on the table, to be honest with you,” State Superintendent Carey Wright said Thursday.

Last month, Wright said there would be about $10 million in federal funds to work with for after-school grants this year. Education officials announced at the time that what they call an accounting error led to a halt of some after-school programs because the wrong category of federal funds had been used in the previous year and it was unclear how much in federal funding would be available for this year’s after-school programs.

Wright said the department will choose which programs can continue and which will be cut based on factors such as past student outcomes for the programs and the number of students affected.

Wright told reporters Thursday that the department is still validating the July and August reimbursement requests from schools and districts, which will affect what the final amount left over for this year’s school programs will be.

“We want to make sure when we do make a final decision and say ‘We have x number of dollars,’ that we do in fact have x number of dollars,” she said.

Wright said she expects to have a plan by the end of next week.

The after-school programs, or 21st Century Community Learning Centers, provide after-school academic opportunities for students, particularly those in high-poverty and low-performing schools, and are funded by federal Title IV money. The programs served about 29,000 students around the state last year.

Title IV refer to a section of the federal Elementary and Secondary School Act that provides federal financial assistance for specific education needs.