06/06/08 — It's back to books soon for some

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It's back to books soon for some

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on June 6, 2008 1:46 PM

The Wayne County Public School system is awaiting the official word that funding will be available from the county Board of Commissioners to add a summer school program for the youngest students in the county -- kindergarten through second grade.

The commissioners have yet to vote on a budget but the money to pay for the classes would come from money appropriated separately, officials said.

Summer school, or "Focused Intervention" as it is now called, is already planned for next month at the elementary, middle and high school levels. Transportation is provided and breakfast and lunch will be served during the four-day-week programs.

Gail Herring, director of elementary education and special projects, said the summer classes will be offered July 2-31 for elementary students in grades 3-8 at six sites across the county -- Carver Elementary, Brogden Middle, Tommy's Road Elementary, Norwayne Middle, North Drive Elementary and Dillard Middle. The K-2 program would be held at the same schools.

Math and reading will be the primary areas of focus, she said.

"In math, we will have end of grade scores to go by, so will look at (those who got) 1's and 2's," Ms. Herring said. Since reading scores are not expected to be returned until later in the summer, she said educators will go by the third 9-week assessments and teacher recommendations to determine candidates for the summer classes.

Dean Sauls, director of secondary education, said the high school summer program will be different than last year, with two options available.

Focused intervention will be offered July 1-17 for three days the first week and four each of the following two weeks. The 11-day program will center around English 9, Algebra I, civics and U.S. History, with the final day used for testing.

The second option is "credit recovery," done online in a computer lab.

"Students who finished the semester with a 60-69 average in English 9 or Algebra I and civics, will go back for these 10-11 days and get credit recovery online," he explained, noting that there are 20 courses offered in this category.

"As parents, to think that you could go 11 days and make up a course as opposed to having to go 90 days to make it up during the next school year, I think that would be appealing," he said.

With increasing mandates such as No Child Left Behind tightening the reins on education, the need for supplemental programs is growing. Locally, the county commission has raised questions on ways Wayne County can better equip students for the future.

One suggestion school officials are considering is directed to the younger grades. Now it's just a matter of obtaining money to make it happen.

"We're planning for K-2 based on funding. We do have plans in place if funding is available," said Dr. Sandra McCullen, associate superintendent for curriculum and instruction.

The goal would be to offer the program at some of the sites where focused intervention is held this summer, targeting children that need "that extra little push" to be more successful at the next grade level, Ms. Herring said.

"Our goal is to catch them early ... to reach our little people before third grade," she said.

"The more you can frontload it, the more successful you're going to be down the road," Dr. McCullen added.

In addition to the traditional summer school program, the district also offers several other enhancement options.

"Learn and Earn," a statewide initiative introduced by Governor Easley, allows high school students to take classes through the community college for college credit.

For students in grades 6-8 in the central attendance area, GEAR UP is funded through a grant and will be offered June 16-19 as an enrichment program promoting college access.

The "Fast Forward Program" will again be offered at Carver and Tommy's Road elementary schools, Brogden and Dillard middle schools and Southern Wayne High School. The research-based program assists students in language skills that struggling readers have.

"There's lots of opportunities and resources out there," Dr. McCullen said, noting that the district is always on the lookout for grants and funding to bring such resources to Wayne County students.

Parents are invited to contact principals at individual schools for more information on programs offered during the summer months. Postcards are also being mailed out to parents of students eligible for the focused intervention classes.

"We're delighted to have these opportunities for our students," Dr. McCullen said. "We encourage parents to take every opportunity that they can to help their children be successful in school."