Working families need a bridge from the end of the school day to the end of the workday, finding afterschool care can be a major stressor. Enter the Community Schools afterschool program, a vital resource for many Somerville Public Schools families. Unfortunately, space is limited in Community Schools programs, and demand for these spots can far exceed supply at some of our elementary schools. This results in uncertainty for waitlisted families and panic for families who miss out.

Community Schools registration

Traditionally, Community Schools has been entirely self-funded, relying on the fees paid by families to offset scholarships for low-income households and pay the cost of staff and outside providers. With the recent tight labor market, it's been hard to recruit and retain staff. Increasing compensation typically would help with this, but with the program's funding limited to the fees it is generating, increasing staff and bringing in outside providers aren't feasible.

This is why last year I introduced a resolution calling on the Administration to end the tradition of Community Schools self-funding and begin funding the program in part out of the General Fund, the City's operating budget. I was thrilled when most of my colleagues on the City Council signed on, and even more thrilled when the Mayor's proposed FY24 budget contained $500,000 in funding for outside providers for Community Schools. This sets an important precedent by breaking the cycle of self-funding for the program and hopefully is the start of increased funding of Out-of-School Time in our City's budget.

I was encouraged again when the City Council named Out-of-School Time a top shared priority for the FY25 budget during our March 26 shared budget priorities meeting. We're facing a leaner upcoming fiscal year in terms of new revenue growth, but I'd love to see an increased investment in afterschool. I still see the social media posts and hear from friends who are sitting on pins and needles waiting to find out if they have afterschool care for the 2024/25 school year.

So I'd love to see us get to a place where families don't have to sweat this every year and deal with the anxiety of wondering if they have necessary childcare lined up after dismissal. It will take an investment by the City, but I firmly believe this is an investment worth making if we want to be a community where families stay because they feel supported.

Jake Wilson


Somerville City Councilor-At-Large (he/him/él)