21st Century Learning Centers Program on the federal chopping bl - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

21st Century Learning Centers Program on the federal chopping block


A program that serves roughly 1,300 families in Rockford was not included in President Donald Trump's proposed budget for 2019. 

The 21st Century Learning Centers program is a service that provides extended programing to students after school. 

"A parent who is working until 4:30 knows that their child is in a safe, secure place and so it really helps the entire family," Travis Woulfe, the executive director of Improvement and Innovation with Rockford Public Schools 205 says.   

But, the federal dollars for that service are on the chopping block once again.  

"Take the money that Democrats want to spend on the social programs and move it to things like infrastructure," says Mick Mulvaney, the director of the White House's Office of Management and Budget.

During after school hours, students sharpen their math or skills and participate in some sort of enrichment activity with partners around the area.
"One of our favorite activities to do with the kids is to make rockets and so we teach the kids about trajectories and launch angels and we have the kids build their own paper rockets," says Mike Rathbun with the Discovery Center, a partner in the 21st Century Learning Centers.   

Experts say the program has an impact and they're seeing test scores from those kids in the program go up. 

During the 2015-2016 school year, RPS says students who regularly attended the CCLC saw their map math score increase by roughly 14 points and their reading scores also rose 10 points. Those are both higher jumps than their peers. 

"It really helps the entire family and we have the results to back it up," Woulfe says.

If that funding does end up going away, RPS 205 says it will do the best it can to make up for that $1.8 million shortfall, but it won't be easy. 

"On a personal level, I think we have to question when people try to balance budgets on the back of poor people. that to me, is what this is doing," Woulfe says.   

We reached out to our Congressmen in Washington to see how they felt about the proposed cut. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, gave us the following statement about that proposed cut. 

"If we want to get serious about keeping our communities safe, we have to protect critical federal investments in our children like after-school programs," Durbin said. "However, the president's budget request would eliminate funding for after-school programs for students across Rockford who need support beyond regular school hours. These federal resources are helping students find their chance for success, and I will be fighting in Washington to maintain these important investments."

It's a cut Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, D-17th, and Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois says they also do not support. 

We also reached out to Congressman Adam Kinzinger's, R-16th, office for comment, but have not heard back. 

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