NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) -- When school districts are struggling, extracurricular activities are often the first things on the chopping block. But New Bedford's mayor is looking to reverse that trend, by expanding sports and arts programs to improve education.
"Studies show the kids who have those types of activities to focus on do better in school and that's the reason why," explains Mayor Jon Mitchell.
He recently told the New Bedford School Committee that he wants to increase support to middle school arts and music programs, and add middle school sports.
Currently, New Bedford middle schools only offer soccer and basketball, which are both funded by the non-profit group Southcoast Connected. Mitchell says the only way to expand extracurricular activities would be through a combination of public and private money.
"What we're trying to do is have a public and private partnership that allows the school system to pay for things like salaries whereas at the same time, have the private entity fund things like equipment and uniforms," said Mayor Mitchell. "So if we do this together, I think we'll be able to sustain it in the long run and really build it up into something special."
The mayor believes getting more children involved in after-school activities will help them succeed in the classroom.
"It's very important that cities like ours take steps to keep kids engaged, whether it's in sports, in arts, in music."
Mayor Mitchell says he would like to see middle school sports and arts expanded in time for the Spring sports season.