Janesville summer school attendance highest in six years

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Ashley McCallum
Monday, September 25, 2017

JANESVILLE--Summer school attendance in the Janesville School District has increased in the past six years, according to an executive summary slated for presentation at Tuesday's school board meeting.

This change is likely due to innovative programming and the cultivation of a positive learning environment, said Superintendent Steve Pophal.

“I think we continue to provide high-quality programming for kids so, first and foremost, I think it’s an attractive place,” he said.

In 2017, 3,583 students enrolled in JSD summer school programs, according to the summary. That’s 823 more than in 2011, when 2,760 students enrolled.

More students enrolled in enrichment offerings than remedial courses, Pophal said.

Summer school courses benefit students because they provide a stimulating environment for students to find their strengths and help prevent bad decision making, Pophal said.

Students in summer school get the opportunity to learn and engage socially, the superintendent said.

Summertime is often when achievement gaps widen, he said.

Some students go home to enriching environments, where they have access to traveling, go to museums and continue learning beyond the classroom. Other students don’t have the same opportunities or resources to get out of their neighborhoods. The Janesville School District tries to bring those opportunities to the neighborhood for those students.

“I can tell you, here in Janesville, we really feel that access is a big issue,” Pophal said.

Programs are offered in all of Janesville’s neighborhood schools, he said.

The superintendent said it’s smart for parents to take advantage of the district’s summertime opportunities for their children.

The district breaks even financially with its summer school programs, Pophal said. Having more students enrolled in the programs requires additional staff and resources, so income and costs often cancel each other out.

The Speed, Strength and Athletic Development class, ACT prep courses, AP Calculus prep and the Global Ambassador Academy were popular enrichment courses in 2017, according to the executive summary. Martial arts and trail running classes were new additions to the summer course offerings, the summary said.

The school board will go into closed session Tuesday to evaluate Pophal’s performance. The evaluation is a routine quarterly evaluation, he said.

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