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Galt high school district plans to reapply for 21st Century program grant

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Posted: Saturday, June 23, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 6:08 am, Sat Jun 23, 2012.

Mindy Vasquez spent many afternoons staying after school at Estrellita High School in Galt, receiving tutoring and high school credits she needed to walk in last month's graduation ceremony.

She was one of about 1,500 students that participated in last school year's 21st Century program, now in its fourth year of a five-year grant. The Galt Joint Union High School District plans to re-apply for state funding after seeing its results.

It provides general curriculum tutoring, exit exam preparation, physical education and recreation, and family literacy. Tutoring has also specifically helped English-language learners, special-needs students and athletes who need help keeping their grades up to be allowed to stay on a team.

Because of the parameters of the program, Estrellita students receive high school credit for completed work.

But some garnered more than just homework help.

"They talk about college and everything you need for it. I took advantage of that (by) getting as much information as possible," said former student Jose Jiminez, who returned to tutor at the program. He plans to attend California State University, Sacramento in the fall to pursue a biological sciences degree.

And Vasquez is a culinary student who is already working in her field.

Although 21st Century is primarily for Estrellita and Galt high school students, Liberty Ranch High School students attended last school year because no one is turned away. Last school year, 53 percent of participants were boys and 47 percent girls. Of those, 8 percent were English-language learners and 57 percent were eligible for free or reduced-price lunches. Most were seniors.

A district study found the total program participation was increasing, with the average number of days attending being 30 or more days. Of those, 56 percent passed the English portion of the high school exit exam and 56 percent passed the math section.

When it came to standardized tests, the 65 percent listed as far below basic in language arts in spring 2010 moved to a higher level of proficiency in 2011.

Students are not required to attend the afterschool program, and it is all-volunteer, as opposed to an elementary-age program where parents must drop off and pick up their children.

At Galt High, the district added the "morning grind" for before-school tutoring. Breakfast and hot cocoa were provided at 7 a.m. to hit the 100 students-per-day mark.

And Estrellita students joined afterschool soccer teams.

In the coming months, the district will focus on a request to renew the $1.8 million federal grant for 2013-14. The $180,000 the district receives goes toward paying the salaries of teachers, youth leaders and tutors.

The program has received training and staff from both the Sacramento County Office of Education and University of California, Davis, afterschool network. It's made possible through partnerships with a number of other organizations including the city's Parks and Recreation Department, Sacramento WORKS Career Center and both San Joaquin Delta and Cosumnes River colleges.

Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at jenniferb@lodinews.com. For more information about local education issues, read our Education Café blog.

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