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SITKA, Alaska (AP) — The Sitka School District’s funding for summer and after-school programs will run out at the end of this month after the district was denied the renewal of a $1.2 million grant.

The district will not receive the five-year 21st Century Learning Centers Program grant, which supported programs that serve about 200 students from elementary schools to high school, the Daily Sitka Sentinel reported last week.

The federal grant distributed in Alaska by the state Department of Education and Early Development funded tutoring, fitness, recreation and education programs for students whose academic achievement is at risk or who live in economically disadvantaged homes. The district has received the grant since 2010.

“It’s devastating. It’s going to hurt a lot of students who really relied on this,” Superintendent Mary Wegner said.

The grant has become more competitive over the years, and the district’s application didn’t score high enough, Wegner said. Sitka finished behind six other districts in the state, she said.

Sitka students in the after-school programs have outpaced their peers in science, said Lisa Busch, the director of the Sitka Sound Science Center, which partnered with the district for the programs.

“We’re doing well, in terms of our students understanding science, and that takes a concerted effort,” Busch said. “If we don’t have after-school and out-of-school programs, that’s going to start to crumble.”

The district intends to apply for the grant again next year, but it does not have other funding sources to continue the programs for the rest of this year, Wegner said.

“We’ve had a good active group that’s been utilizing it, and it’s gone as of next month,” Wegner said. “There’s nothing we can do without the grant. It’s gone.”


Information from: Daily Sitka (Alaska) Sentinel,