By Victoria Daniels
Special to the AFRO

The Hyattsville City Council discussed the budget for the returning Hyattsville Summer Literacy Program during the budget discussion at their March 2 meeting.

The Hyattsville Summer Literacy Program was in 2017 by the City of Hyattsville Education Advisory Committee (EAC) in collaboration with faculty and students from University of Maryland – College Park, Rosa L. Parks Elementary School PTA and staff from Prince George’s County Memorial Library System. 

The proposed budget is $3,500, which includes reimbursing volunteers for a portion of the background checks, giving two honorariums to the bilingual coordinators, purchasing snacks and crafts supplies and buying books for the end-of-program celebration.

Hyattsville Summer Literacy Program will continue this summer based on an initial budget meeting held by Hyattsville City Council on March 2. (Courtesy Photo)

The majority of the funds go toward the honorariums and background checks. The honorariums would pull $1,000 from the budget, allowing $500 for each one. 

The background check reimbursement for 20 volunteers accounts for $800 of the budget. Background checks cost $56.57 so the program will cover $40, while students are required to cover the remaining $16.57.

The EAC is also taking into consideration that they will serve more students this summer. They have reached 70 students in the past but are budgeting for 80 students for 2020. 

There was no vote at this meeting, but Mayor Candace Hollingsworth gathered a general consensus from the board that it should be included in the FY21 budget, which will be voted on in the coming months. 

Ward 1 Council member Bart Lawrence facilitated the discussion and said he believes it will be approved. 

“It’s a well-regarded program and non-controversial,” said Lawrence. 

The two-hour program is held at Rosa L. Parks Elementary and Hyattsville Elementary and runs for about six weeks. It focuses on students who attend those schools, ages 5-11, and provides them with lessons in vocabulary, comprehension and phonemic awareness as well as reading time with their families and UMD volunteers.

The student is not the only person who can benefit from this program. Families are welcomed to bring younger siblings to participate in the preschool component, which engages children with alphabet blocks and puzzles. According to the EAC’s budget request and in past years, two UMD volunteers facilitated a bilingual parent workshop for language development. 

Jennifer Kubit, an EAC member, said that the program functions as an extension of school. 

“It provides a very well-known library location” said Kubit. She explained that families are less likely to use a library if it’s more than six blocks from their home. This finding comes from research presented in “Stop Summer Academic Loss” by MetaMetrics, cited by the EAC in their budget request. 

To combat that distance, families from Edward M. Felegy Elementary will be invited to join the program at Rosa L. Parks Elementary.  

In addition to reading and literacy enhancement, friendships are formed. 

“Those children were looking forward to seeing that reading partner and the reading partner was looking forward to seeing the child,” said Kubit. She said that this was a measurement of success from previous years. 

The EAC is looking for volunteers for the summer literacy program. All volunteers will have to be fingerprinted for a background check and can contact [email protected] for more information.