The Future of After-School Programs

The decrease in funding to school districts by state governments and the federal budget crisis present significant challenges to publicly funded sports and arts programs. What is the future of extracurricular activities for students in the USA?

A synopsis of potential scenarios is provided below:

Renewal: Funding is restored for extracurricular activities, and sports and arts programs remain at public schools.

Likelihood: Doubtful. Education budgets are shrinking across the country.  Extracurricular activities are often the first line items to be eliminated. There are no indicators this disheartening trend will be reversed. Without an increase in public funding, sports and arts programs at public schools are in grave danger.

Pay to Play: After-school programs remain at public schools, but students pay a fee to enroll in a club or extracurricular activity.

Likelihood: Doubtful.  In reality, these pay to play fees are a temporary band-aid to the looming budget crises across the country. Courts are likely to view these pay to play fees as unconstitutional because they deny students an equal opportunity for public education, and state legislatures are proposing (and passing) legislation to end pay to play fees.

Non-Profit Management: Non-profit organizations administer after-school sports and arts programs.

Likelihood: Doubtful. The recession impaired non-profit organizations as supporters and charitable trusts reduced donations. Non-profit organizations also share public schools’ challenges; 501(c)3’s often rely on state and federal grants to operate. While non-profits will likely continue to administer existing after-school programs, the potential for growth is not promising.

Privatization: Small businesses, individual coaches and franchises offer unique, personalized and branded after-school opportunities.

Likelihood: Probable.  With schools cutting programs, non-profits shrinking and pay to play fees being barred, parents will be looking for alternatives for their children’s after-school activities.  While increased costs to parents may be associated with the privatization of after-school programs, opportunities will develop to provide students with more creative, customized and effective programs.

What is your prediction for the future of extracurricular activities?


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