Summer school threatened by budget cuts
by Maddy Houk | Patterson Irrigator
Oct 12, 2011 | 1018 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Patterson Joint Unified School District’s summer school program may be the latest casualty of budget cuts, officials announced last week.

Steve Menge, assistant superintendent of administrative services, told the school board during its Oct. 3 meeting that with state money tight and the threat of even more cuts looming, summer school — which costs $94,317 to run each year — might have to end.

In the past three years, $7 million has been sliced from the local district’s budget because of a lack of state funds. Officials are looking at the possibility of losing $2 million more for the 2012-13 school year and should know those numbers in a few months.

“Once we find out what the projections are, we can work on it,” Menge said. “We can’t count on money, because the economy is so volatile now.”

This summer, Grayson Charter School in Westley had 117 students on its campus, while Patterson High School had 476 high school and middle school students taking classes. Summer school provides educational opportunities to students during the summer months when schools are usually out of session. The district used to have summer classes at every campus, but it has trimmed back the program over the years.

Patterson High School teacher George Crawford told the board that summer school offerings benefit the students.

“Half of the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) kids take physical education in summer school,” Crawford said. “In general, when you take away summer school, you are just reducing opportunities. Cyber high (classes on the Internet) doesn’t cover everything summer school does. I have concerns about getting rid of summer school and the effect it’s going to have on high school.”

AVID is for students who are planning to attend college and focuses on not only academics, but also developing the students’ long-term academic and personal goals.

Summer school students in the elementary grades focus on English and math, while students at the high school take English, math, science and physical education classes.

Trustee Gilbert Luján said the district should notify students and parents as soon as possible about the possibility of canceling summer school.

“We need to identify that there are specific challenges we have now,” Luján said. “We need to inform the community and prepare ourselves for next year.”

Patterson High School Principal Dave Stubbs urged the board to come up with a plan soon.

“It’s one thing to tell them we’re not going to have it (summer school), but what are we going to do with students who are off track to graduate?” Stubbs said.

The board plans to look into options, such as trimming summer school enrollment or limiting the number of classes offered.

“I think we really have to look at it and make sure those students get educated,” Trustee Ruben Piña said.

• Contact Maddy Houk at 892-6187 or maddy@pattersonirrigator.com.

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