A weekend interview about summer school with Pasco assistant superintendent Ruth Reilly
With money tight for Florida public education, many school districts are scaling back their already meager summer course offerings to make up at least some of the difference. Count Pasco County schools among those. Assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction Ruth Reilly spoke with reporter Jeff Solochek about the choices and the rationale behind Pasco's limited summer options.
I know the budget has created changes for summer school. I'm interested in knowing what is going to be offered this summer, and how it differs from past summers.
Well, we have changes in all three levels. And we are downsizing from what we have had in the past. At elementary school in the past we offered summer school to all first, second and third graders who needed assistance with reading. And this year we're only offering it to those third graders who did not meet proficiency on the FCAT.
So what happens to those other kids?
Those other students will continue to receive support during the school year, and progress monitoring, but the extended school year will not be available to them. So that's the elementary change. And that's a significant reduction.
How do you think that will affect what happens in school during the regular year with the elimination of those programs?
Well, we will continue to offer some extended-day program, which is another option for students to receive help after school. That will continue to be available, although that will be reduced as well. So the remediation support and monitoring is going to be happening for the most part during the school day in their regular classrooms with their regular classroom teachers.
Do you worry about that summertime slide that we hear so much about?
Well, we certainly are concerned about that. So we typically send home recommendations for summer reading, recommendation for things to keep kids engaged by families in the summer. So we encourage families to maintain good reading practices in the summer so that we don't see that slide.
And you said middle school and high school will be different, as well?
Right. Middle school, because of the change at the state level for promotion for students exiting eighth grade, we are now looking at the summer school ESY program to support those students who have not yet met proficiency in the eighth grade. In the past, we've had summer school for sixth, seventh and eighth graders in middle school. And this year it's just for those eighth graders who have not met the proficiencies. So again, it's dramatically reduced summer school offering.
And at the high school, we have typically prioritized ESY for those seniors who are lacking credits so they can graduate by the end of summer. This summer we are continuing to offer that. That is our priority, with very limited additional offerings for students at other levels who need classes for credit recovery.
So at all three grade levels we had to prioritize.
Is this the best way to deal with this budget situation, by reducing summer school options for these kids who arguably need it the most?
Well, these dollars typically go to support extended day and extended school year. We feel we get the best bang for the buck in extended day, because it's that support that is closer to the instruction. ... So while we've reduced extended day, that's where we've put our emphasis.