by PAUL GEORGE and LINDSAY TOSTE
Earlier today, Reno City Councilman Oscar Delgado testified before the Senate Committee on Finance. Delgado spoke in favor of Senate Bill 398, a measure that would help fund the implementation of the AfterSchool KidzLitz literacy program in Nevada Boys and Girls Clubs.
“Education does not stop at three o’clock,” Delgado said.
Delgado told the committee that he grew up in a Spanish-speaking household and learned English by jumping on a bus as 6:30 a.m. and going to school in the Truckee Meadows area. According to Delgado, the Boys and Girls Club can also play in important role in helping Nevada’s children learn to speak and read English.
SB 398 would make a $2 million appropriation for the establishment of AfterSchool KizLitz programs in Nevada Boys and Girls Clubs. However, the Boys and Girls Clubs operating in the state would need to match funds. Helen Foley, a representative for Boys and Girls Clubs of Nevada, a collection of 34 individual clubs, spoke to the committee, explaining the need for the program for children from non-English speaking homes.
“When these kids come […] they need help,” Foley said. “They go to school. They learn, but then they need someone to help with their homework. And if their parents are not literate, it is very difficult for them to get help with their homework.”
Dulcinea Almazan, CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Las Vegas, said that 70 percent of the club’s 7,740 young members are minorities.
“One out of every two minorities will graduate from high school,” Almazan said. “Ninety percent of members of the Boys and Girls Club graduate from high school.”
While some of the individual clubs already use the AfterSchool KidzLitz program, the funds would allow it to be expanded statewide.
Senator Joyce Woodhouse, an educator, said she was pleased to see this kind of program from the Boys and Girls Club, adding that it can help Nevada students learning English by bridging a gap the school system cannot fill.
Senator Debbie Smith said with so many cuts from Nevada’s K-12 budget, she would like to see more support for programs like AfterSchool KidzLitz.
“I see that you are providing a service that perhaps we [the state] should but are not,” Smith said.
Senator Ruben Kihuen, one of the bill’s sponsors, described himself as a product of these types of programs. After school programs, Kihuen said, help students to complete school and stay out of trouble.