Digital Only: Pandemic Provides Additional Funding For Local Summer School Programs



Central Illinois (WMBD) – Schools are on summer vacation, but for many local students their education is never absent.

Summer schools are changing for many districts this year and the Coronavirus Assistance, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) law with Primary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) funds.

Of the 13 districts contacted by the WMBD, nine had to organize summer schools for the first time or expand their offerings due to growing interest.

Peoria Public School District 150 is one of them, said principal, Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat.

The district has about 3,000 students in Kindergarten to Grade 12, which is more than usual. The changes may be due to the expansion of federally funded programs, but also to the district providing breakfast, lunch, and personal math and reading support to students.

For now, things are off to a good start.

“We are handling it very well. We have hired a lot of staff and a lot of support. Knowing that more students need more tutoring, we know that. Well planned the idea. [behind that] Take them to a really rich environment where you can explore and experiment a bit. I am excited about the interest of my students and my family. “

Dr Sharon Desmulan Kerat, Principal of Peoria Public School.

Students can also use tumbling, dancing, robotics, STEM, various sports and foreign languages.

“There are around 300 students who follow bilingual programs, learning a lot of Spanish and English. It is also unique. They have courses based on their interests to choose from, ”she says. Mentionned.

Courtesy of the Peoria Public School website

However, the district faces significant staffing issues. Desmoulin-Kherat said wages should be increased to attract more bus drivers and teachers.

“In most cases, all of the positions were given incentives for the summer, which meant they were paid a high hourly wage to help us, and it worked,” she said.

Crossing the Washington River was no problem at all. Washington Elementary School’s Kelli Ballard said their program has about 45 students from kindergarten to grade 3.

Due to its small size, only three teachers were needed. But despite the low enrollment numbers, Ballard said the school hosted a summer program for the first time in four years, all thanks to federal funding.

This year, you can use federal CARES law funds to pay teachers’ salaries. We usually use the district budget to pay for summer schools, ”she said in an email.

Federal funding was also a big draw for the Canton Community School District.

Principal Jason Parsons said the district began planning a summer school program in mid-April, “there is little staff enough to run at least one class per K-8 level.”

Courtesy of Canton Community School District website

Farmington Central School District principal Dr Zack Chatterton said staffing was not an issue for them. By posting internally, all positions were quickly filled.

According to Chatterton, 10-15% of the school’s population will attend summer school this year. Breakfast and lunch, transportation is provided.

Traditionally, Farmington Summer School is not available to all students, and meal and bath services are not available. But with the arrival of ESSER funding this year, Chatterton said he felt it was right.

“We do nationally standardized benchmark tests and regional assessments to show what our students are doing, but we still don’t know what learning losses exist for our students. I do not know. The social and emotional aspects of what our students and their families went through last year are still very unclear, so I thought it was best to offer the program to all families. . “

Dr Zack Chatterton, Principal of the Farmington Central School District

However, not all schools face this problem. The Morton School District reports that the curriculum has not changed and that Tremont has no summer schools at all.

The East Pioria Community School District is expecting 400 students for its program. The program includes STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics) and robotics.

Assistant Superintendent Jason Warner said the district has adequate measures to ensure all students have access to transportation and does not anticipate any problems.

“I hope the students will have the opportunity to grow and continue to learn,” he said in an email.

Credit Recovery is the name of the game at Limestone Community High School and the Metamora Community School District. No traditional summer school experience is offered.

However, in McLean County, Bloomington School District 87 and McLean County Unit 5 District have chosen to host a summer school this year.

In Bloomington, approximately 12% of the student body is enrolled. This tends to be higher than usual, according to communications director Julia Perez.

“Our district has recognized the importance of focusing more on programming this summer, as some students have not been to school since March 2020.” she said in an email.

The district has decided that the solution is to make sure the students’ summer is filled with activities they want to participate in.

“One of the things we really focused on this summer was student participation. What we did was create a program that was directly focused on that goal, so we socialized with them. They explore the outdoors and read what they want to learn. All of this is what we can do to make it a really exciting place. “

Dr Diane Wolf, Principal of Bloomington School d87

McLean County Unit 5 students have the opportunity to participate for the first time with federal funding.

The district typically only offers continuing education programs for students with special needs, with an average of around 350 people, according to Dayna Brown, director of communications and community relations.

This summer, approximately 1,100 students had to register for a new program, all recommended by teachers. In other words, parents couldn’t register.

“The teacher made a reference based on the data [which] We have shown how students can benefit from these additional learning opportunities, ”said Principal Kristen Weikle.

She said summer school would last until mid-July for kindergarten to grade 8 students. High school students take a credit recovery course.

But this year’s summer school is different from what the district has offered in the past, she said.

“Summer schools have developed. Traditionally, we have offered summer courses to qualified IEPS students with special needs. There are still students who are eligible to attend summer schools at the high school level. So these ESSER dollars really help provide opportunities for K-8 students. “

Kristen Wickle, Director of McLean County Unit 5

Pioria Heights and the Dunlap School District are also preparing a new format for their summer program.

In Pioria Heights, the school district is launching its first program and is focusing on “programs” that help students develop skills based on their individual needs.

“We delivered an afternoon summer camp-like skills exploration program that is fun, musical, artistic and some of the service the kids have done this summer,” Eric said. Said. Heather.

Courtesy of Pioria Heights School District

The Dunlap Community School District has traditionally maintained its program, but has chosen to have counselors on standby to support the social and emotional health of its students as needed.

Courtesy of 87 Bloomington District School Districts

“For the first time this year, we will be providing a staff counselor for the K-8 Summer School,” said Meghan Bagby, director of programs and education at Dunlap Community School. “It will be new this year to meet some of the student’s academic, social and emotional needs.

Digital Only: Pandemic Provides Additional Funding For Local Summer School Programs

Source link Digital only: Pandemic provides additional funding for local summer school programs



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