New Pierson After-School Program to Start by March 5

The main entrance to Pierson Middle-High School.

Sag Harbor School District officials expect the new Pierson Middle School after-school program to be up-and-running no later than March 5.

Superintendent Katy Graves and Pierson assistant principal Brittany Carriero delivered the update during Monday’s school board meeting. They said the delays in rolling out the program were due to internal staff challenges within HUGS, the nonprofit organization the district has partnered with to run the program, and with the hiring of people to staff the program. The school board had approved the new after-school program in October to replace the Youth Advocacy and Resource Development, or YARD, program.

“Now that the middle school musical is over, there is a definite need,” Ms. Carriero said. “At the same time, our kids seem to be fine without it, but we know that our community wants it.”

The district also extended Pierson’s Homework Club by half an hour to help accommodate students who needed a place to go in the interim.

HUGS executive director Kym Laube confirmed Wednesday that “challenges with illness and staff changes … have contributed to the delay” on the part of her organization. Part of it, too, she said was hiring people to staff the Pierson program.

“We are in the final stages of interviewing candidates and look forward to launching the program,” she said, and put out a call for volunteers to supplement the program by sharing their expertise in yoga or other skills or activities for the students.

Ms. Laube also attributed the delay to a misunderstanding that the after-school program would be “turn-key” and said it was in the process of acquiring new equipment and furniture. The Youth Resource Council, which had helped Pierson run the YARD program, owned the prior furniture and equipment, including video games, board games, a foosball table and more. YRC director Janet Grossman said last week she had been directed to remove the equipment and so the YRC subsequently donated it to other nonprofit organizations.

Ms. Laube said HUGS is “thrilled with the opportunity” to run a program at Pierson.

“As we have a similar program at Westhampton Beach Middle School we know the value to the community after school programming provides,” Ms. Laube said.