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LAUSD: Summer school is expanding. More seats, more fun classes, plus sleep later!

Mike Szymanski | April 5, 2016

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Yolanda Campos Assistant Principal Justin Hang 10th Grade Student Leader

Assistant principal Yolanda Campos and student Justin Hang talk about their summer school bridge program.

Summer school is expanding, plus it’s going to be fun again.

That’s the message Janet Kiddoo, LA Unified’s intervention administrator for Beyond the Bell, brought Tuesday in a report to the Curriculum, Instruction and Educational Equity Committee.

“Whoever thought people would get excited about summer school?” Kiddoo said. “People are very excited, and there are such passionate and very bright people involved this year.”

For the first time since 2009 when the district cut all summer school because of budget constraints, there will be a robust summer program again at LA Unified schools. Not only will students be able to fulfill their credit recovery requirements in order to graduate, but they can take classes such as physical education and drama as well as get ahead in their studies.

Janet Kiddoo Beyond the Bell

Janet Kiddoo, of Beyond the Bell, explains expanded summer schools.

Last year there were 42,000 seats available for summer school; this year 68,725 seats are available, a 64 percent hike. In the past, students were limited in where they could attend summer school, but now they will be able to attend any of the 71 high schools offering summer classes, Kiddoo said. Core subject courses will be offered at all sites.

This week, the district is starting the training for 1,374 teachers to handle 2,749 courses scheduled to be available this summer, and they have added a full-time counselor for direct services for students. Summer principals start training at their Local Districts this month.

Summer classes will run 24 days with two periods of 2.5 hours each, rather than for six weeks. The classes will start at 9 a.m. rather than 8, as they do during the year.

“We had a survey of more than 3,000 students who attended summer programs last year, and we found that they would have better attendance if we started the classes a little later, so we will try it and check the data,” Kiddoo said.

Also, 43 CORE-waiver schools will try a two-week summer bridge program to welcome incoming ninth-graders to high school. Committee chairman Scott Schmerelson said that when he was a principal he found it very helpful for students to prepare themselves “and they did fantastically well in the new school.”

Yolanda Campos, assistant principal of the School for the Visual Arts and Humanities, brought two students to the committee meeting who were part of an extensive ninth-grade summer bridge program.

Justin Hang is a 10th-grade student leader who was paid to help the students who were coming to the program. A total of 15 students offered to help incoming ninth-graders at the school.

AlexisMartinezSchool for the Visual Arts and Humanities

Alexis Martinez, with Justin Hang behind her, talks about her Summer Bridge experience.

“We wanted to show them what it was like to come to our school, and we took an active role, I wasn’t just printing papers,” Hang said. “Some of the students were not like my personality, but I learned from it. I was a student leader and a role model and someone who would provide support so that their first day of high school was not going to be the worst day of their life.”

Ninth-grader Alexis Martinez talked about how she had regular break-downs of anxiety about coming to high school. “The anxiety would bring me to tears, but they supported me, and now I am able to stand here and talk about it.”

Kiddoo, who has been with the district for 36 years, said, “We are trying new and innovative things, and I am so hopeful because we have a new superintendent, new board members and so many opportunities to do things for the first time.”

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