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Elkhorn schools could use federal dollars to fund new summer school program

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Pedro Oliveira Jr.
January 12, 2010
— School board officials hope to use federal money for a summer school program aimed at students up to eighth grade.

School District Administrator Greg Wescott told the board Monday that officials are looking at several measures to improve the district's summer school program. One would involve adding a two-week session for 20 to 25 students who need to extra help with such skills as reading and math.


The program would cost about $25,000 per summer and could be funded through money from the federal government's Race to the Top program.


Race to the Top would require schools to implement a long list of reform measures aimed at raising student achievement. Wisconsin schools could receive up to $137 million if all districts participate.


Elkhorn schools could receive about $267,736, according to preliminary estimates by the Department of Public Instruction.


The board on Monday decided to sign a memorandum of understanding with the state, in essence agreeing to participate in the program until more information is available.


School district administrators across the state have expressed concern about not knowing exactly what would be required in order to qualify for the grant money. But most have signed the memorandum until the list of requirements is finalized.


Not signing the memorandum would mean a district isn't interested in the funds.


“We really have nothing to lose by approving this tonight because we can change our minds later,” board President Susan Leibsle said.


District officials still are working out details for the two-week summer school session and other changes to the district's summer school programs.


“I would hope we wouldn't limit the class if there are more kids who need a jump start,” board clerk Dave Ketchpaw told Wescott.


Wescott said the number of students who would participate has not been decided yet, but keeping class sizes small is important.


The two-week summer session only would be open to students schools identify as needing an extra boost, and also by invitation only, he added.


Classes likely would take place at Jackson Elementary School because it has seven classrooms with air conditioners, Wescott said.


Wescott also proposed moving the start of the high school’s summer school session to a week after the regular session ends, allowing school officials time to post grades and decide which students need to be in summer classes.


“Sometimes students don't know they have to recover credits until after summer school has already started,” he said.


School district officials also are hoping to launch a computerized system to make summer school registration easier for students and parents.


The board expects to see a final summer school proposal by March.



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