City considers extending summer jobs program with school district
CHAMPAIGN — The city and school district's summer jobs program for high school students would continue for the foreseeable future under a contract the city council will consider this week.
Officials have touted the summer youth employment program for several years now as a resume-builder for students from lower-income families and a productive way to occupy those kids' time during the summer.
The city and school district would each pay $75,000 to continue the seven-week program this summer, and that contract would automatically renew every summer. City council members will take a look at the agreement when they meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Champaign City Building.
In 2013, the summer jobs program employed 130 students from Champaign schools. That number was down a bit from the previous summer, when 150 kids went through the program, and 2011, when 161 students were employed, according to city documents.
The vast majority of the students who participated in the program last year were black: 104 of the 130 student employees were African-American.
The number of employers who agreed to participate in the program was down a bit, too: From 69 in 2011 to 77 in 2012 down to 61 employers last summer. The employers were all local companies or agencies — the city of Champaign, park district, University of Illinois, day care facilities, churches and barber shops were among the dozens of participants.
The students are paid for their time: $8.25 per hour for 17.5 hours of work per week last year.
Students must qualify for free or reduced lunches at school to be entered into the program. The idea is to train students for the workforce early: All employees were expected to have a minimum 90 percent attendance during the seven-week program, follow work site policy and procedures, maintain professional behavior, communicate with their coordinator and refrain from "negative interaction with law enforcement."
The future of Champaign's summer youth employment program will be decided Tuesday night. Numbers have tailed off in recent years: