Harris visits Caroline summer learning program
— U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md.-1st, visited a Caroline County Summer Learning Program event Friday, July 20, to see firsthand how it benefits local children.
Harris was invited by Caroline County Recreation and Parks staff, who run the program through a partnership with Caroline County Public Schools and the county commissioners, to encourage him, as a member of the House Committee on Appropriations, to keep funding for such programs in the federal appropriations bill.
Harris said he supports afterschool and summer learning programs like those in Caroline County, and he expects money to fund crucial grants to be maintained.
“Programs like these are important in any community, so when kids aren’t in school, they can be busy and learning,” Harris said.
Harris said the bill has already passed through his committee with the grant funding intact, but it still has to go through the House and Senate.
“I’m confident programs like this will stay (in the bill),” Harris said.
The event Harris visited July 20 at the 4-H park outside Denton was a field trip, bringing together students from the summer learning program’s three permanent sites at Denton, Greensboro and Federalsburg elementary schools.
Kids who just completed second through fifth grades came to the park for a day of music, dance, recreation and art activities.
Sue Simmons, Department of Recreation and Parks director, said the program’s three sites registered 447 children this summer, about 150 at each site, who are about to enter kindergarten through sixth grade.
The program runs for five weeks, Monday through Thursday, beginning in late June.
While some of the students’ parents pay a fee for their child to attend, many of the students’ fees are covered by the federal grant funding, which flows through the state and then through the Caroline County Human Ser vices Council.
About three-quarters of the summer program’s attendees qualify for free or reduced meals during the school year.
“The nonprofit partnership (with the Human Services Council) is essential,” Simmons said.
More money comes from the county commissioners’ budget.
“This is so important in a rural community, and the local government gets that,” Simmons said.
The public school system provides bus transportation, used by many of the kids, as well as meals and certified educators who work with the kids academically every day to help prevent the “summer slide,” a loss of progress made during the school year, especially among low-income students.
All the partnerships and funding ensures things like transportation and registration fees are not a barrier to any kid’s participation, Simmons said.
Unique to Caroline’s summer program is a requisite pre-registration event for parents, to distribute information, introduce them to the staff and impress upon them the importance of making sure their child attends ever y day.
“It’s increased regular participation,” Simmons said.
Harris said he appreciated the innovative approach.
“It gets the parents involved, and helps them understand the importance of getting them up every day and to the program,” Harris said.
Also joining Harris at the event were Mar yland Sen. Addie Eckardt, R-37B, and all three Caroline County commissioners, Larry Porter, Wilbur Levengood and Dan Franklin.
U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, right, smiles as a child stretches to show off both of his “random acts of kindness” posted on a display board, during Harris’s visit to a Caroline County Summer Learning Program event Friday, July 20, at the 4-H park outside...