Bethel Park reinstates homework help program on trial basis
The Homework Overtime Team (HOTT) program, which has operated for more than 20 years at Independence Middle School, provides after-school homework help and tutoring to students four days a week. The bus, which provides transportation home afterward, was discontinued as a cost saving measure before the 2011-2012 school year.
District officials said there has been a drop in the number of students participating in the program since the transportation was discontinued, and that more students have said they would participate if there was a bus to take them home.
According to Superintendent Nancy Rose, the school principal asked for the bus to be reinstated and offered to rearrange his budget to include the expense. Rose said the cost is approximately $3,500, but she wasn’t sure if that was the cost for an entire school year or for one semester. The bus is being reinstituted for only the current semester on a trial basis.
In addition to the busing expense, two teachers are paid a stipend to oversee the HOTT program.
Many board members said that although they are reluctant to reinstate the bus because of the expense, they believe HOTT is a very worthwhile program and that having more student participation would be worth the expense.
Casting the dissenting vote in the 8-1 approval to reinstate the bus was board member Jim Means, who argued that if the district operates a bus for one school’s after-school program it will be obligated to do the same for the other schools if asked.
“It’s just for one semester,” said board member Russ Spicuzza. “If it doesn’t work out well, it will just go away.”