Batavia City Schools leaders have a “robust” summer school plan, they say.
Summer session will open July 12 and run for a month, to August 11. It’s a countermeasure for the ill effects of pandemic shutdowns. Instead of in the past, when students went to central designated sites, they will go to their own schools this year. Lessons will be taught from 9 a.m. to noon three days a week, and breakfast, lunch and transportation will be provided, said Molly Corey, executive director of curriculum and instruction.
“We’re being deliberate, the kids will stay at their own school. So Jackson is hosting their own summer school program, and John Kennedy and the middle school are as well. And we added extra staff for those locations, and we're combining transportation, that's a big variable as well.” she said during an interview Wednesday with The Batavian. “We want to ensure that we get kids there. And right now our numbers are looking really good. At Jackson, it’s 150, where normally we would have 50 students.”
Those grades — Pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and first grade — are the “critical grades” to reach in July, she said. They will be taught basic literacy skills so that, by third grade, students are expected to “be reading to learn” and to enjoy learning to read.
“So we hired more teachers and we have a longer day than we traditionally have had. Last summer it was a two-hour program; this summer it's a three-hour program just so we have adequate time,” Superintendent Jason Smith said.
Strategies also include pairing students with trusted adults and an element of compassion for what the students have already gone through, Corey said. The district is targeting 500 students for the summer school program in all three schools while extended days have already been implemented at the high school.
There will also be more teachers, albeit with a more summertime feel, at the middle school. Unlike a stiff remediation vibe, the Ross Street school will offer math and literacy camps with “high engagement” for middle school students and veteran teachers serving as coaches, Corey said.
“It’s really just hooking them into the learning,” she said. “Giving them more purposeful practice while they do so.”
Smith believes it’s essential to not only bolster students but teachers also.
“Teachers have had very, very busy days, they make thousands of decisions every single day. So we want to give them support, so they can best support our students,” he said. “And one way to do that, one effective way to do it, is to appoint math coaches. We have literacy coaches currently in place through COVID funds as well. At the high school, we’re using the extended day to help kids recover credit from where they didn't meet the expectations during credit from the previous year.”
The district applied for federal COVID funds made available to New York State in 2020. Batavia was awarded $9 million over a three-year period to afford measures such as additional personnel, programs, extended school days and transportation and meals during summer school.
Smith feels the district must be doing something right, given its recent ranking in U.S. News as being in the top 40 percent of schools in the country.
“So we're doing well,” he said. “We're on track.”
Enrollment is still open for summer school. For more information, call the district at (585) 343-2480.