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Another LAUSD year is ending, but summer school is starting

Hayley Fox | June 2, 2015

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LAUSD expands summer school with huge boost in budgetAs LA Unified students throw aside their books and backpacks on Thursday, the last day of school this year, they will be quick to pick them up again as summer session begins June 15, less than two weeks after the academic year ends.

This break-neck start to summer programming is due to the early start date of school in the fall, Aug. 18, LAUSD program specialist Victor Gonzalez told LA School Report. Although summer enrollment is ongoing for the district’s three main programs, 35,000 of the 100,000 open seats were still unfilled as of May 28, Gonzalez said.

Long gone are the days when LAUSD had nearly $50 million to spend on summer education and could offer activities in almost every school, Gonzalez said. However, this year’s summer budget, just under $32 million, is up from last year and is a vast improvement from two years ago when funding hit rock bottom. In 2013, amid rumors that summer school would be cancelled completely, the district assembled a total of $1 million that went solely to help high school students graduate on time.

So although LA Unified’s summer funding is slowly recovering, much of this year’s programming requires students to be prioritized based on need and eligibility.

A four-week course to help elementary and middle school students reach “grade-level standards” in math and English is available at most CORE Waiver schools this summer, said Gonzalez. Although the program has more than 30,000 available seats, they are reserved for the most “at-risk” students who are already attending one of the participating schools, according to LAUSD data.

“We actually don’t do a lot of advertising for those programs because we don’t want to mislead the public,” he said.

Select elementary and middle schoolers will also have access to Beyond the Bell’s Summer Enrichment Program, hosted at 200 schools throughout the district. The program includes meals for students as well as academic, recreational and enrichment (such as arts-and-crafts), components.

For high schoolers who received a “D” or “F” during the school year and need to make up academic credits, they can enroll in up to two classes this summer.

“To me, summer school is a specific academic intervention program,” said Gonzalez.

These courses will take place at 86 high schools this summer, nine more than last year, due in large part to an increase in Title I funding, Gonzalez said. Also new in 2015 is added transportation for magnet school students. If students were hopping on a bus to school in the spring, these students will be afforded the same help this summer.

“Summer learning loss is a documented phenomenon and we are proud of the work we are doing to serve tens of thousands of students but we know more is needed as well,” he said.

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