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D65 closes in on year-round schooling

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The Evanston/Skokie District 65 School Board is showing an inclination to expand a summer learning program that involves more students as it inches towards the concept of year-round schooling.

After presenting its plan for the 2014 summer program at the board’s January 21 meeting, district assistant superintendents Susan Schultz and Ellen Fogelberg returned Monday night to present alternatives, including a “Plan B” that would represent the ultimate benefit for the largest number of students, but at increased cost.

Basically, Plan A focuses on “reducing summer learning loss in the critical early grades by extending that experience to rising second grade students from Dawes, continuing the program at Oakton and Washington, and providing a similar experience to rising third grade students from across the district,” the administrators said in a background memo.

Plan A would employ 73 teachers and 25 aides and would serve 915 students at a total cost of $333,540.

The more elaborate Plan B would provide service to students from pre-kindergarten through grade 7.

“Students in grades 2, 3, and 4 would be offered a full-day program, with academics in the morning and recreation and enrichment In the afternoon,” the memo said. It would also provide half-day programming for students in grades 5, 6, and 7 that are focused on literacy and math skills, as well as transition to middle school.

Plan B would build on partnerships established with the McGaw YMCA and the Youth Organizations Umbrella, as well as the district’s charitable arm, Foundation 65.

Plan B would employ 128 to 129 teachers and 25 aides and would serve 1,515 students at a total cost of $737,540.

One of the “challenges” with Plan B, the administrators said, is that it was too large to operate with only regular District 65 teachers. It would require hiring additional teachers who may not be familiar with the way District 65 operates, they told the board.

Board members expressed the view that they would like to go beyond Plan A, but not to the full extent encompassed by Plan B.

They were particularly enamored by the prospect of serving more of the younger students, for whom summer learning loss has proved to be a critical factor in student test scores. A program to help students going into the middle schools, while desirable, could be sacrificed if sufficient funds were not available, they said.

Board members also expressed an interest in serving students at all grades who have special needs.

The fate of the summer program now turns to the board’s Finance Committee, which is expected to further fine-tune the program at its meeting Monday night. The district hopes to finalize the 2014 summer program before the end of the month so that parents can make appropriate plans with their students.

 Related story:

Cold got you down? D65 is thinking summer

Charles Bartling

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio stations and business-oriented magazines.

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