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home : schools : othello school district May 24, 2016

5/7/2013 4:04:00 PM
Cuts to summer school may affect students
Erik Pague

A decision at the April 8 school board meeting means only migrant students will be allowed into summer school, with a few exceptions.
The board held a public forum April 22 to gather community input on the reduction in size of the summer school program and how it would affect students.
Several community members expressed their concerns over the decision, including Kayleen Hayduk and Erika Heist. Heist knows students can sometimes struggle and, while her children have been fortunate enough to get extra help from teachers, she knows many students need to continue their studies in the summer. She asked the board to reconsider opening the program up to non-migrant students so these kids could get the help they need.
In reply to Heist's request, school board President Rob Simmons and superintendent George Juarez said they have been working on options to provide help to these students. Juarez said although there's no legal commitment to help, the district feels it's their moral obligation to, but they just don't have the plans set in stone at this point.
"We are looking at an option right now that involves the use of three labs we would be staffing with either a teacher or some educational assistants," Juarez said. "We haven't quite put complete structure to it in terms of the time frames, but we are looking for a morning and afternoon session. We could probably accommodate an extra 150 students."
Juarez said the board and the district would have more information on these programs at the May 31 school board meeting but expects the curriculum would involve some online programs. In the past, summer school programs were available to as many as 600 students but will only be offered to approximately 150 migrant students this year.
Hayduk asked the board what it takes to qualify for migrant status and the board said it's not their decision to make, but is defined by the federal government. Simmons said a migrant student is one whose family has had to move to the district due to seasonal work changes in the agricultural or fishing industries within the preceding year. A student can be classified as a migrant for three years after the move.
Juarez said funds that would have normally gone into paying for summer school had been spent during the normal school year and that is why the pool of students who qualify has been limited to migrants.
"We don't have the same resources for summer school that we had last year," Juarez said. "We expended those funds during the school year, which didn't give us any money to be able to run as robust of a summer program as we have in the past."
The district has received a grant that is made for funding migrant student summer school programs, Juarez said.
"We have a responsibility to make sure we offer that for the migrant students because that's what the grant is specifically for," he said. "We want to make sure we are good stewards of our district's resources, but we will offer some program that will allow us to serve a few more students this summer."
During the April 8 meeting, Simmons clarified that the board didn't vote to take away summer school for non-migrant students but had to make the call due to financial reasons. At the same meeting, assistant superintendent Gina Bullis said summer school isn't funded through basic educational money and is a supplemental program. The board also said they would work on keeping the community informed on the changes to the program in their Vision newsletter in the near future.

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