MEXICO — An after-school program that allows students to sign up for classes in robotics, engineering and math, improvisational acting, cooking, art, graphic design and photography might end this year unless Regional School Unit 10 receives another grant to help pay for the program.

The 21st Century grant is in its fifth and final year and Miki Skehan, director of the Western Foothills Kids Program, has applied for another five-year Maine Department of Education grant to continue the program for the district. This time, however, she and the WFKA have partnered with Community Concepts as a nonprofit organization.

Community Concepts has agreed to serve as the employer for the program for an administration fee of 7 percent of the $300,000-a-year grant.

By having a nonprofit organization as the program’s employer, the program would no longer have issues with paying educational technicians’ overtime pay, Skehan said.

This year the program has lost five of the ed techs who taught the classes because the program cannot pay them overtime, Skehan said.

With Community Concepts as the employer that “handles (and) oversees our finances and does the payroll, (human resources) and everything, we can look at the overtime pay,” she said.

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Another factor of the five-year grant: At least 25 percent of the transportation costs of the after-school program must be covered by RSU 10.

Also, the 21st Century grant application for the WFKA program includes Rumford Elementary School, Meroby Elementary School and possibly Hartford Sumner Elementary School, but will no longer include a program at the Mountain Valley Middle School due to lack of interest from instructors there, Skehan said.

Abbey Rice, a board director from Rumford, said at the RSU 10 meeting Monday she was concerned the after-school program would no longer be offered at Mountain Valley Middle School.

“I have a couple of kids who are really enjoying the after-school program,” Rice said. “My kids don’t do sports. If you do sports, you’ve got so many options.

“I just don’t know what we can offer kids who aren’t going to be doing soccer and basketball. I’m concerned about that.”

mhutchinson@sunmediagroup.net

Several educators and residents from the RSU 10 communities attended the board of directors meeting Monday. (Rumford Falls Times photo by Marianne Hutchinson)

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