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Donations keep after school program running

WESTPORT - Adirondack Community Action Programs (ACAP) has lowered its fees for the Westport after school program to essentially the same rates charged last year, allowing many of the students who left the program to re-enroll, according to Alan Jones, executive director of ACAP.

Last year, the program was forced to raise its fees sharply after the federal grant that originally funded it was not renewed. The fee jumped from $35 a month per child to $50 a week, and enrollment dropped from nearly 60 children to fewer than 20. ACAP's after school program in Schroon Lake, which shared the same grant, was forced to close completely.

Starting immediately, parents in Westport will be able to enroll their children at $50 a month per child, which is close to the old rate. The new rate reflects the same modest increase at the ACAP after school programs in Willsboro and Moriah, which are funded by a different federal grant.

"We're hoping for returning students," said Marge Zmijewski, ACAP's child care program manager. She added that parents may pick up applications at the site, which is the cafeteria at Westport Central School, or get them by phoning ACAP at 873-3207.

The program, which serves students from kindergarten through sixth grade and runs from 3-6 p.m., was popular and has been sorely missed by the families who could no longer afford it. Only by offering a flexible schedule based on an hourly rate, combined with an appeal for donations, was it able to continue at all.

The appeal resulted in several hundred dollars worth of donations from the community over the fall, and then a single anonymous donor offered a more substantial amount in order to allow the program to return to its previous fee schedule.

"Adirondack Community Action was thrilled to receive this anonymous donation," Jones stated. "It will make the difference in keeping our Westport after school program operating through June of this year. This donation couldn't have come at a better time."

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