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Congressman Visits Improved Covington School

Northern Kentucky Congressman Thomas Massie visited Glenn O. Swing Elementary School in Covington on Tuesday to check out the after-school program there.

Massie was shown the gym for playtime, the computer lab where students play educational games and get homework help, classrooms where craft activities commemorating the 200th birthday of Covington were taking place, and a presentation about the school and after-school program.

Among the statistics presented to the Republican Congressman, who is serving his second term in DC, were that 90% of the students at Glenn O. Swing are eligible for free or reduced lunches and that of the roughly 500 students at the school, 15% are classified as homeless and 22% qualified for special education classes. When Massie asked why the number of special education qualifiers was so high, it was explained to him that various factors played a part including the home environment for the children, genetics, and a poor preparation for kindergarten.

Despite those challenges, Glenn O. Swing was recognized as a distinguished school in Kentucky for ranking in the 99th percentile on state testing.

“We've been doing some kind of after-school program for the last four of five years now, and that's part of why, because two hours after school, these kids are having fun and getting exercise and going home and probably getting a good night's sleep and they're getting fed, so I think that's part of the package. It needs to be there for us to continue doing what we're doing,” Glenn O. Swing principal Scott Alter said during the presentation.

The after-school program is treated as an extension of the school day with emphasis on math and reading activities. Students spend time with tutors and the activities and programs are planned around educational and academic ideas.

The key to the program's success, though, is the fact that the students have fun there and choose to come back on their own, school officials said Tuesday. The after-school program is open at Glenn O. Swing from 3-6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Its 15 hours a week are up from the national average of 14.3 hours per week. It was explained to Congressman Massie that the extended hours gives parents more flexibility to work or go to college or to seek other educational endeavors to better provide for their children and themselves.

The annual cost of the program runs around $91,000 which is significantly lower than the national average of $127,000, and costs $784 a child compared to $1,222 nationally.

Among those leading the tour were Principal Alter, CLC coordinator Ian Madden, Covington Independent School Board member Julie Geisen Scheper and former Covington Mayor Chuck Scheper, and Superintendent Alvin Garrison. Also on hand were representatives from Covington Partners which provides resources to the Covington School District. Congressman Massie is expected to tour a similar after-school program at Holy Cross Elementary on Thursday.

Story & photo by Bryan Burke, associate editor