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Finding the funding for summer school

Districts across U.S. are finding partners to provide financial support
Summer programs for students in the Kashunamiut School District in western Alaska connect reading and math with native Alaskan culture.

Despite mounting evidence that summer programs drive student achievement, making ends meet is another matter.

In 2011, there were 13,000 students in the Santa Ana Unified School District’s new summer program, but its federal grant ran out, leaving the district to cull funding from its Title I and Title III (for ELL students) funding. And it forced Chief Academic Officer Michelle Rodriguez to reduce the number of summer students by almost 5,000.

In the Portland Public Schools in Maine, administrators depend each year on renewed foundation funding.

“We hope our grant is renewable for this coming summer,” says Gail Cressey, the district’s NCLB director. Economics also are a concern for Jim Gault, the chief academic officer for the Toledo Public Schools in Ohio. The district eliminated summer school in 2010 but launched a new program for students who have not passed the third-grade reading assessment required by the state for promoting students to fourth grade.

“We’ve put this program together all within the last two years,” says Gault. “We had cut summer school for budgetary reasons, and we’ve had to be creative at bringing the program to students at no cost.”

Along those lines, Toledo is partnering with the nonprofit Feed Lucas County Children, which serves free hot meals during the summer. The district also saves money by not providing transportation. And a partnership with the local YMCA provides enrichment activities at minimal cost.

It has also helped, Gault adds, that the waiver Ohio received two years ago from No Child Left Behind requirements frees up more Title I funds originally earmarked for student tutoring under the federal law.