Summer School

It’s June, and kids across the country are enjoying their summer vacation — sleeping in, going to sports camps, swimming at the local pool, etc. School is closed for the summer, or at least that is the assumption of most. But nothing could be farther from the truth. School is in full swing. It is time for finishing new buildings, doing cleanup and maintenance projects that cannot be done with school in session, preparing for the next school year, and hosting camps and summer sessions.

Summer is a chance for some students to get the remedial help they need, and for others to participate in advanced academics and enrichment activities geared to their special interests. Many states see the summer months as the ideal opportunity for remediation with programs concentrating on improving math, science, and reading skills. Others take advantage of the time to prepare students for high school exit exams and college entry exams. According to the Education Commission of the States, 35 states and the District of Columbia have summer remediation policies. Twelve states operate summer remediation programs designed exclusively to ensure their students are reading at proficient levels. Thirteen states explicitly include both mathematics and science as subjects in their remediation policies. Ten states have policies that are targeted towards districts or schools, or students identified for reasons ranging from not making AYP, the size of the district’s population, or measures of poverty within the population. Another nine states operate summer remediation programs explicitly designed to assist high school students meet graduation requirements.

If given the choice, most kids would choose summer camp over summer school. Schools have become the host to every kind of summer camp imaginable. There are sports camps for baseball and softball, golf camps, tennis and soccer camps, swimming, lacrosse and hockey. There are camps that concentrate on the arts, offering classes that range from visual art, music, theater, dance, to magic and the circus arts. And don’t forget the computer camps, band camps, and chess clubs, all meeting at the school. For the younger kids, there are programs like the City of Phoenix’s Afterschool Center (PAC), a program that my grandkids attended, and loved. PAC is a school-based program run by the Parks and Recreation Department that offers both school year and summer activities tailored to the interests of the surrounding community. From my viewpoint, its learning disguised as fun. The PAC kids learn about health and safety through special classes like water safety, "Stranger Danger," and bicycle safety. They take part in team sports like kickball and learn to relate and get along with others as contributing members of a team. They get to make arts and crafts, and take a field trip to our local museum. They are involved in positive summer activities and, most importantly, they have fun making use of our school facilities year-round.

In between all of this activity, school personnel are trying to get their facilities ready for next year’s crop of students. The custodial staff has its summer cleaning checklist — scrub walls, wash windows and window coverings, strip and recoat floors, clean carpets, replace light bulbs, clean furniture‚Ķ the list goes on. The maintenance staff is working on painting, patching, paving, and roof repairs. Upgrades are being made to HVAC systems, lighting and electrical systems, plumbing fixtures, windows, and roofs. Parking lots and walkways are being paved, tennis courts resealed, softball diamonds and playground equipment upgraded. Security systems are being added. Major construction and renovation projects are being fast-tracked, furniture is being delivered and installed, and it all needs to be complete before the next school year starts.

So the next time someone talks about schools being closed for the summer or about the slower summertime pace, invite them to stop by and see what is really happening during this so-called vacation!