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Student help cut amid outbreak

Courtesy Photo School Success Program Director Dorothy Pintar is pictured here.

ALPENA — Many students in Northeast Michigan will go without extra help in school this fall.

Northeast Michigan Community Service Agency’s School Success Program will not continue this fall in Atlanta or Hillman schools, Alpena Public Schools’ Alternative Choices for Educational Success Academy, Immanuel Lutheran School, or All Saints Catholic School. Alcona Elementary School will keep one school success worker instead of the two it school previously had.

School Success Program Director Dorothy Pintar said NEMCSA lost $525,000 in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funding from the state during the 2019 fiscal year, which represents about a 30% decrease in the School Success Program’s $1.8 million budget. The money was cut amid the state’s own budget fights and budget cuts amid the coronavirus pandemic.

According to NEMCSA’s website, 31% of the agency’s funding in 2019 came from state sources, while the largest portion, 48%, came from schools, 17% came from NEMCSA, and 4% came from grants.

The program helps students who are most at-risk for academic failure, such as those with attendance or academic problems, behavioral or mental health issues, or family problems.

She said School Success leveraged funds from NEMCSA’s housing division and a portion of NEMCSA’s federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act money to help fund the program.

“We’ve weathered the storm pretty well, but, unfortunately, some areas are not going to be having this program and I’m fearful of that,” she said.

Pintar believes funding was cut at a time when there will be a whole new group of kids needing services. She said kids may have more anxiety or fear because of the pandemic.

“In some way, it’s going to affect everybody, but especially kids,” she said. “We’re really going to need to focus on kids we may have never seen before in our program, and be sensitive to that.”

Crystal Nelson can be reached at 989-358-5687 or cnelson@thealpenanews.com.

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