District 65 set to review summer school program

Summer school in Evanston could get a major overhaul at the Evanston/Skokie School District 65 board meeting Monday night.

After discussing the Summer School 2000 report at its Oct. 16 meeting, the board agreed that summer school was poorly planned and had serious communication problems. The board will vote on recommendations for 2001 at Monday’s meeting.

“The information did not get through,” Vice President John Chatz said of last year’s summer school. “It was a mess.”

Although most parents of summer school children surveyed by District 65 said they were pleased with the program overall, many parents, teachers and administrators said summer school was not well organized or implemented. Principals said they felt summer school was too hectic and unplanned.

Recommendations for 2001 address several major problems of last year, including teachers’ salaries, student attendance and inadequate school supplies.

The proposed 2001 summer school plan would increase teachers’ salaries by an undetermined amount. A survey of neighboring school districts shows that District 65 has the lowest summer school pay rate of $19.83 per hour. In contrast, Lincolnwood District 74 pays $63.15, Winnetka District 36 pays $36.11, Glencoe District 35 pays $31.58, and Glenview District 34 pays $26.

Board members hope that by raising salaries they will draw more experienced teachers, particularly from D65, to summer school. Half of last year’s summer school teachers had been teaching for less than four years, and many teachers were not from D65, prompting concerns about summer school teachers.

The board also recognized the need to start planning summer school earlier than last year. The district did not begin to plan for Summer School 2000 until January, leaving them inadequate time to hire teachers, order supplies and conduct registration. The board hopes to close summer school registration for 2001 by February and hire teachers by spring break.

Enrollment and attendance also caused problems for teachers and principals. While 1,700 students were enrolled in Summer School 2000, 25 percent of teachers said four to five of their students missed more than a week of summer school.

Board member Rosie Rees proposed billing parents for children who did not attend. She said she felt there was a lack of impetus for parents to make their children attend, as middle school and high school prep classes did not require the normal $190 tuition fee in 2000.

Superintendent Hardy Ray Murphy said it is difficult to plan for summer school enrollment during the year.

“We have no idea how many students we have or where they’re going to come from,” he said.

A difficulty in implementing the recommendations for 2001 will be the number of construction projects proposed to start after the school year. Nichols Middle, Oakton Elementary, Lincoln Elementary and Chute Middle schools all are scheduled for roofing and air conditioning upgrades.

Suggested alternate sites for programs are Dawes Elementary, Kingsley Elementary, Lincolnwood Elementary, Timber Ridge Magnet, King Lab Magnet and Washington Special Education schools.