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Many more incoming freshmen enrolled in summer school at Evanston Township High School in 2011 than before, according to a report presented to the District 202 School Board at its Oct. 24 meeting.
“That’s a trend you want to see,” said assistant superintendent/principal Oscar Hawthorne. “They are taking advantage of the springboard programs we offer.”
Board President Mark Metz said that over half of incoming freshmen had enrolled in summer school.
“That’s an extraordinarily useful way for them to transition into high school,” said Mr. Metz.
Although there were more freshmen, there was a slight reduction in overall summer school enrollment last year (1193 compared to 1261 in 2010) which Mr. Hawthorne explained was mostly the result of a smaller number of seniors.
As usual, summer school in 2011 ran a deficit. Revenues were $314,000 and expenses were $522,000, resulting in a loss of $208,000. “It’s an investment to make summer school happen,” said Mr. Hawthorne. The lunch program during summer school was a money-maker for the District, however, with a profit of $5,000.
Board member Jonathan Baum suggested that at some point the Board might want to consider, as a matter of policy, if it wanted summer school to “break even.”
Mr. Metz responded that it might be a worthwhile discussion.
Board member Deborah Graham asked if students who received a grade of NC (no credit) because of non-attendance were tracked for truancy.
Mr. Hawthorne said that, because summer school is a paid program and attendance is not required, there was less oversight than during the regular school year. However, he said counselors did follow up with students who received the NCs to make sure that their schedules were changed for the fall or to initiate an appropriate intervention.
“A lot of students like to use summer school to meet their health or consumer ed requirement,” said Mr. Baum. “It seems like there is a fair amount of jostling for these spots. I’m wondering if we can plan to meet that demand.”
“We really do not try to accommodate all the demand [for some courses],” said Superintendent Eric Witherspoon. “We have to make sure we have enough sections to maintain a faculty during the regular school year.” He also said it would be a significant challenge to find faculty from other schools to teach the additional sections in summer school.
“We need more three-week class options,” said Board member Gretchen Livingston. “I know that this is a problem for families.” She said that with the six-week schedule, students are “essentially foreclosed from doing anything else during the summer. This is the single thing I heard from a wide range of folks. … I hope we think about how these pieces fit together in a bigger way as we put together our planning for next year.”
Summer school in 2012 will begin on June 12 and end on July 26, administrators announced. They also recommended providing a Spanish interpreter and keeping only one cafeteria open to consolidate services. Summer school registration for 2012 will begin online and via mail on Feb. 8, 2012.
More seniors were part of the intervention programs such as credit-recovery during the school year, said Mr. Hawthorne, and were not using summer school to “catch up with things they hadn’t done in regular school time.”