Marble Falls, Burnet school districts replace ACE programs as grant funding ends

EDITOR DANIEL CLIFTON

BURNET — With waiting lists growing at two of the three elementary campuses for the new Bulldog Clubs, Shelley Reavis, Burnet Consolidated Independent School District’s director of Elementary Curriculum, knew the district was on the right track and picking up steam after a grant funding a previous after-school program ended.

“It’s needed,” she said about the new clubs. “We definitely see that.”

For the past five years, BCISD and Marble Falls Independent School District have partnered in the Burnet County Consortium, which operated the Afterschool Centers on Education (ACE) at seven of the districts’ campuses. The program, funded through the Texas Education Agency with federal money, offered after-school enrichment and academic instruction at no cost to families.

The program was aimed at campuses with certain demographics and offered after-school tutoring and a variety of enrichment classes, which included arts and sports.

It was a very successful and popular program. In BCISD alone, at least 1,000 students across four campuses took advantage of it.

Earlier this year, however, the districts learned the state wouldn’t be extending the grant, bringing an end to the ACE program.

But both districts have found way to mirror it.

At MFISD, the ACE program operated on three campuses: Highland Lakes Elementary School in Granite Shoals, Marble Falls Middle School, and Marble Falls High School.

Wes Cunningham, the MFISD assistant superintendent, said the district has a plan to continue after-school learning opportunities at those campuses, though in slightly different forms.

“Our plan in Marble Falls is we have partnered with the Boys and Girls Club (of the Highland Lakes) to provide some after-school classes — academic and enrichment — at Highland Lakes (Elementary) at a low cost for our parents.”

The other three MFISD elementary campuses — Spicewood, Marble Falls, and Colt — didn’t have ACE programs but created after-school opportunities for their students as well.

At the high school and middle school campuses, Cunningham said, the plan is to focus primarily on academic studies, achievement, and intervention.

In Burnet, Reavis said, the middle school and high school will concentrate on academics, tutorials, and credit recovery.

At the three BCISD elementary campuses, Bulldog Club enrollment is being capped at 105 students per campus. Shady Grove and Bertram elementary schools hit that number as of Aug. 14. The third elementary school is R.J. Richey.

Bulldog Club builds on the foundation of ACE with both academic and enrichment opportunities. Reavis said after-school programs will be from 3:15-6:15 p.m. During the first hour, students will tackle homework and academic-related studies. For the next two hours, Bulldog Club members will participate in enrichment activities.

While there is a nominal fee to attend Bulldog Club, Reavis said the BCISD Board of Trustees has also budgeted funds for this coming academic year to help cover additional costs of the program.

The one thing missing for both Marble Falls and Burnet districts is transportation. A big part of the ACE funding provided for the districts to run bus routes after ACE wrapped up each day. Neither BCISD or MFISD will offer transportation this year for the after-school programs.

Both districts could have walked away from providing after-school opportunities, but Cunningham pointed out these types of efforts don’t just entertain kids or offer parents cheap child care; they impact the children’s academic achievements both while they’re enrolled in the programs and in the future.

“When kids have after-school opportunities like these programs, they miss less school, they do better academically, and there are less discipline issues across the board,” he said. “And studies show that kids who have access to these types of programs, they continue to do well and have less problems in school.”

Parents and guardians can learn more about after-school opportunities by contacting their student’s campus.

Reavis added that BCISD has several openings for people interested in helping with the Bulldog Clubs, including a site coordinator — working about four hours a day — as well as assistance with homework or enrichment activities.

Go to burnetcisd.net to find applications for the positions.

daniel@thepicayune.com

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