By Dave Ongie, Managing Editor
Coalition for Kids announced plans last Tuesday to expand into the Washington County School System. Coalition Executive Director Randy Hensley said the plan is to start offering afterschool programming to students at Boones Creek’s K-8 school and Jonesborough’s elementary and middle schools next fall with plans to serve all 11 schools in the county within three or four years.
Jerry Boyd, superintendent of Washington County Schools, approached Hensley about helping the county achieve its strategic plan of giving its students access to quality afterschool care. Boyd was on hand at a fundraising luncheon at Coalition for Kids last Tuesday when the plan was announced along with Washington County Mayor Joe Grandy and other county officials.
Hensley said the expansion will help fulfill a longstanding goal to serve every schools with K-8 students in the Johnson City and Washington County school systems, but he noted that the expansion will take place slowly and intentionally to ensure the quality of the care and programing remains at a high level.
“It took us 20 years to get in 11 schools in Johnson City,” Hensley said.
Coalition for Kids has enjoyed strong growth throughout its 23-year history. Hensley recalled the first day of summer programing in 1999 when there were only seven kids in attendance.
“I looked at one of my co-workers and said, ‘What are we going to do?’” Hensley recalled. “On Thursday, there were 77 kids in the building, and I looked at him again and said, “What are we going to do?”
Over two decades later, Hensley is excited about ramping up from 45 staffers to around 120 over the next few years as Coalition for Kids goes from serving just over 300 students to around 1,000.
“The more kids we get, the more impact we make,” Hensley said. ““When we’re done in three or four years, we’re going to be looking at 1,000 kids a day, we’re going to be looking at 120 staff, and we’re going to be looking at an impact that is potentially a state or national model. It’s not being done anywhere in the nation.”
To learn more about Coalition for Kids, visit coalitionforkids.org.