Summer School Programs Take Regional Approach
This year’s summer school program is now in full swing, and area students are experiencing it from a regional perspective.
This is because Erie 2 Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES is hosting a regional summer school program for its component districts in three centralized locations within its service area-Iroquois Central School in Erie County, Fredonia and Jamestown.
At the Jamestown site, which is hosted at Jefferson Middle School, eight area districts are participating in the regional program. They include: Bemus Point, Chautauqua Lake, Clymer, Falconer, Frewsburg, Jamestown, Panama and Southwestern.
According to Dana Williams, the Jamestown site’s summer school principal, the program is an asset for students who have struggled during the school year.
“For the kids that take advantage of it, it’s just an awesome way to be able to keep up with the requirements for graduation,” said Williams. “They’re given the option to get class credit in 30 days for something that could take them from six months up to a full school year to complete. So, just like in the regular school year, the kids that show up are doing themselves a real big favor, and when it’s all said and done, I think they’re happy they did it.”
The program runs from through Aug. 12, with Regents exams being administered on Aug. 13 and 14. It consists of two segments per day-8-9:55 a.m. and 10-11:55 a.m.-and therefore allows students to take up to two classes.
Williams said the program is catered primarily to the students who have failed a particular course, Regents exam or both.
“We don’t offer every class, but we offer pretty much the majority of classes that lead to a Regents exam,” he said.
Students who opt to participate do have control over their time commitment to the program. They can choose to: receive both the schooling and exam retake over the full five-week, 24-school day period; sign up for the program’s final week, which is designated for Regents review, in order to retake the exams; or they can simply sign up to retake the exams.
Due to the program’s Regents-centric options, Williams said it assists the districts with gauging how many students will be sitting in on the exams.
“It helps the districts sign kids up for the tests ahead of time, because we always have to order all the materials, tests and answer sheets. So, to make sure we have everything we need when the testing comes, we kind of rely on the districts, including (Jamestown), to sign the kids up ahead of time,” he said.
According to Suzette Benson, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction at BOCES, the regional summer school program through BOCES came about approximately 10 years ago as the result of feedback the school received from districts within its service area.
“(Regional summer school) came about based on an interest of our component districts,” said Benson. “Several years back, the districts asked for regional summer school because it became increasingly difficult for each building to fulfill the needs of their students over the summer.”
Of Erie 2 BOCES’ 27 component districts, Benson said 22 are participating in this year’s program.
The Bemus Point Central School district is also hosting a separate summer school program, beginning July 22, for its elementary and middle school students. The program will run four days a week through Aug. 15, and the district is in the process of hiring teachers.
“Some teachers have expressed interest, but we’re just looking to fill those spots,” said Jacqueline Latshaw, district superintendent. “Usually, we run it around the Fourth of July. I think we chose to run it a little later (this year) because teachers decided they needed more time to get one school year done before they come right back.”
Latshaw said the program is unlike the regional summer school program in that it will be more remedial in nature. Available for students from kindergarten through eighth grade, the program is intended to give those who are “at risk” in the subjects of math and ELA assistance in these fields, in order to better prepare them for the next school year.
The students who will be participating in the program were recommended by their teachers based on their performance in the classroom, Latshaw said.
“Typically, the teachers send a list to the guidance office or the principal and say, ‘We are recommending these students (for summer school).’ Based on those recommendations, parents can choose to have their children participate or not,” she said.
According to Latshaw, there was some confusion over the program in regard to its designation as an “enrichment” program-saying many of the students were wanting to take advantage of the offerings.
“When we said ‘enrichment,’ all of the kids wanted to be there,” she said. “But it really is for kids that struggle and need the review. It’s not just because (the students) have failed. For some it is, but it’s just giving them a boost, so when they start (the new school year) in September, they’ve had the opportunity to review some of the material.”
For those who, for any reason, are unable to participate, Latshaw said the district is looking into putting some of the information and materials on its website for personal, home-based review.