District 65 looks to change summer program

Bailey Williams, Assistant City Editor

Evanston/Skokie School District 65 is looking to change their 2014 summer program to offer full-day programming in an attempt to narrow the achievement gap. 

Two proposed plans were presented earlier this month at the school board’s working meeting. The first plan is budgeted to cost about $333,540 and will serve about 915 students, according to school board documents. At the meeting, District 65 assistant superintendent Susan Schultz said additional cost may bump the total to about $390,000. 

Though the document states the second plan — which will serve about 1,515 students — will cost around $737,540, extra costs may raise that amount to about $900,000.

Each plan provides a variety of educational programming catered to students of different ages and needs.

“Plan A really focuses on the critical early year, early grades,” Schultz said at the meeting.

District 65 teachers can staff the first option, but the second may require teachers from outside of the district.

“The concern with Plan B … is the staffing,” Schultz said at the meeting. “We would not be able to staff that with District 65 teachers based on our history of hiring teachers over the years.”

Before the plan was discussed at the meeting, Barbara Hiller, District 65 chief administrative officer, asked about the fiscal aspect of the summer program. Mary Brown, interim district superintendent, said there was about $300,000 allocated for summer school expenditures.

Jamilla Pitts, summer learning coordinator, said engaging younger students early on sets them up for success in later years.

Pitts said both proposals go to the board of directors, which decides where to allocate the funds. After the funds have been allocated, she is responsible for implementing the program along with a team that designs the summer learning program, she said.

Both summer plans build on existing partnerships with the YMCA and Youth Organizations Umbrella, contain an English as a Second Language program and have a pre-K portion focusing on rising kindergarten students.

Funds were already set aside for the summer program, but now the district is looking at how to best make use of those funds, Pitts said. She also said motivation behind the proposals has to do with the extended-day programs, the “kinds of experiences students will have” and the opportunity to partner with two organizations with experience and success with students.

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