Pleasantville Moves Ahead With After-school Program

Pleasantville officials determined last week the village would run an outdoor after-school program in September and October after a majority of respondents to a recent survey indicated they need help with child care.

The program, which will feature various activities and sports, is mainly for elementary school students at Bedford Road School.

However, the Village Board postponed making a decision on the popular Panther Club, which is held indoors, because of staffing and custodial expenses. Some parents – about 25 percent of those who responded – expressed concerns regarding health risks and the expense for the Panther Club. Others mentioned that they needed more extensive after-school arrangements for their children.

“The survey highlights that there are a set of parents who are desperate for significant children care,” Mayor Peter Scherer said. “There seems to also be a set of parents who found another solution or are working at home and looking for some relief and for their kids to have enrichment opportunities.”

The 12-question survey, sent to more than 200 parents of Bedford Road School and Pleasantville Middle School students that are in the village’s Recreation Department database, produced 137 responses, with 60 percent indicating they need after-school care for their children. There was less interest in after-school programs for middle school students.

“The general interest appears to be about 120 potential sign ups,” said Trustee David Vinjamuri who, along with Pleasantville Superintendent of Recreation & Parks Matt Trainor, spearheaded the survey. “That’s a lot of interest.”

Many respondents were more interested in outdoor, sports or activity-based clubs. Among the desired activities mentioned was a ninja obstacle course, soccer, baseball, softball and basketball.

“We could have drills and activities with an emphasis on fun rather than on competition,” Trainor said of the two-hour program.

The club will have a maximum enrollment of 15 students a day and will be conducted over a six-week session. The projected cost for one day a week is $125 per student per session.

There are some logistical concerns, including walking students from Bedford Road School to a local field. Most parents indicated that they would want the transportation of children from school to a playing field handled by program staffers.

There are ongoing concerns about whether the village can operate the Panther Club this year. It would be a twice-weekly indoor program open only to students attending Bedford Road School on either Tuesday and Thursday or Wednesday and Friday to mirror the students’ remote learning schedules. The projected cost would be $400 to $500 per child per month.

“The plan would be to keep them in the classrooms doing various activities such as arts and crafts or games,” Trainor said.

However, if all of the school’s kindergartners signed up for the Panther Club, Trainor said it would reach the permitted enrollment for the club, particularly if the youngest students were given priority.

Last year monthly fees for the Panther Club ranged from $218 to $530 per month.

Factors that figured into the programs’ costs were staffing and custodial fees needed to run both the outdoor program and the club.

“There are additional supplies needed and other fringe costs that would be significant fees,” said Village Administrator Eric Morrissey. “There are a lot of factors going on.”

Trustee Nicole Asquith said she would be concerned about mixing populations of students from the school-assigned cohorts. The village has not received much information on how the school district is isolating cohorts, she said.

It was also unclear if the clubs could use the school’s bathrooms, the basketball court or other facilities.

Children would be required to wear masks for the outdoor program and the Panther Club, if there were to be a Panther Club. Less than 5 percent of surveyed parents said their kids would be unable to wear a mask.

“We do need recreation center employees to remind kids to wear masks,” Trainor said. “We also need to tell our staff soon if we are hiring.”

Scherer said it was clear the village could run the outdoor program.

“It’s the best and most realistic program we have,” he said.