Summer school may return for elementary school students

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Education > Organizers are waiting for final approval from school board

By Tris DeRoma

If all goes well, the holiday spirit may pay off in dividends this summer for elementary school students needing to improve their grade point average.
Los Alamos teacher Suzanne Lynne, as well as District Curriculum Coordinator Pam Miller have been working hard to bring back summer school for elementary school students this summer. All they are waiting on now is the Los Alamos School Board’s final approval, which they may receive as early as January.
Their plan is charge a tuition of $100 per student per subject for the month-long session, which will consist of hour and a half classes in math and reading, five days a week.
According to Miller, summer school for elementary school students has not always been able to happen, in fact it didn’t even happen at all last year. In the years that it did, tuition has been as high as $175, as well as free, but both fee structures presented the same problem, low attendance.
If it was too expensive, people simply didn’t sign up and if it was free, then people didn’t place a high priority on attendance Miller and Lynne said at the meeting.
There’s a reason why the School Board is interested in summer school at this early date. If the program is approved, school officials can start identifying students now who may need the extra help this year.
“Priority will be given to those students working below grade level,” Miller said in a previous written statement to the board. “Another group of students who can be invited are children who have made significant progress and would not get support during the summer in order to maintain their newly acquired skills.”
One group that won’t be invited however are students that have the potential, but aren’t meeting it because they don’t put in the work.
“(Teachers) are asked not to recommend students who are capable of the work, but choose not to do it,” Miller said in the same statement.
The proposed total budget for the school is $41,188. Funding will come mostly from tuition income and the $2,500 that’s already in the summer school budget. The budget also makes room for subsidizing the tuition for students who qualify.
During their presentation, school board members had some questions. Board member Dr. Kevin Honnell wanted to know what would happen if the enrollment numbers (11 classes, 12-15 students per class) weren’t high enough to match the proposed budget numbers.
Lynne replied the adaption would be arrived at through matching the exact number of teachers needed for the job, which is another reason why the process used for identifying summer school students needs to start this winter.
“That’s when you start talking to counselors, teachers, and gathering test data, so, by the time summer rolls around, you know your numbers,” Miller said at the presentation.
All of the board members seemed enthusiastic with the plan, in that it fit in well with the board’s goals and objectives when it comes to educating students in the Los Alamos Public Schools.
“I really admire the work that you’ve both done on this,” said School Board President Jim Hall to Miller and Lynne. “I think it’s so important for our students, to give them a step up and help them.”