The new hotline was made possible by a $50,000 award given to the school district from Verizon.
The $50,000 award was part of Verizon's Ed Link program. This program allowed Verizon to set aside $250,000 for five schools across the state for technical and/or communications programs.
According to Dennis Bone, president of Verizon's New Jersey headquarters, the programs submitted to Verizon were evaluated based on how important the company thought they would be to the students.
"We wanted to chose programs that had the potential to improve education and guarantee success for the students," said Bone, who said that the bilingual aspect of the project was also one of the proposal's selling points.
Students in grades kindergarten to nine and their parents will be able to phone a project teacher after school hours with homework-related questions. The phone lines will be open on Monday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
"I want to make sure that I have the number because I might need that Math teacher to help me with the budget," said West New York Mayor Albio Sires jokingly, about managing the deficit in the state budget.
The money was given to the district at a grant presentation ceremony held at Public School No. 5 on Tuesday.
Getting help, not answers
Sometimes it is hard to believe, but even Mom and Dad do not have the answers to students' homework questions. However, the hotline is not just another answer guide for students.
"The teachers will take the students through the process of how to solve the problem," said Superintendent of Schools Anthony Yankovich, adding that the teachers will not be giving students the answers. "They will be there to lead them through."
West New York has chosen five teachers to participate in the new program. These teachers will be sent to the Rockland Teachers' Center Institute in Rockland County, N.Y. for training.
With more than 6,500 youngsters within the school district, just five teachers may not be enough to handle all of the callers. However, the district has also entered into a partnership with the Rockland Teachers' Center Institute so teachers in Rockland County may also be assisting students when they call.
The hotline will assist people in both English and Spanish. This will be a help to many West New York parents who may not be able to speak English well enough to help their children.
"There are no excuses anymore," said Dr. Armando Riverol, the district's supervisor of grants, federal programs and public relations. "You just pick up the phone and dial a teacher."
Many students are also looking forward to the program.
"A lot of times, students do not understand a problem and just leave it blank," said Anais Concepcion, an eighth grade student at Harry L. Bain School, who said that she is going to need help in history the most.
The hotline number is (866) 884-8277. It will not be in service until the beginning of March.
What's in a name
The district also held a name the project contest in which students were given the chance to name the hotline. Anais Concepcion, the eighth grade student at Harry L. Bain School, won with her entry TASQ, Teachers Answer Students' Questions. Concepcion received a cordless telephone from Verizon as a prize.
"I wanted to think of something creative," said Conception about choosing an acronym for the hotline's name. "I always liked how people changed the spelling of words to make them sound the same."
Each class was able to submit three entries to the contest. The words chat or dial were not eligible for the title.