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District 99 looks to replicate 2017 summer school success

Community High School District 99’s 2018 summer school program will be at Downers Grove South High School.
Community High School District 99’s 2018 summer school program will be at Downers Grove South High School.

DOWNERS GROVE – Community High School District 99’s 2017 summer school program was a success, and a similar curriculum likely will be offered this year, along with an increase in the stipend for teachers.

Gina Ziccardi, the district’s assistant superintendent for student learning, recommended at the Jan. 29 Board of Education meeting that the district once again offer proactive programs including Freshman Bridge, which prepares incoming students for high school math and English.

Summer school would again feature the Keys to Academic Success program, which is designed to improve students' study habits and note-taking and organizational skills.

The district will seek Title I funds to pay for summer school transportation and partially fund stipends for teachers and paraprofessionals, Ziccardi said.

She also recommended an increase in the summer school teacher stipend to $2,933 from $2,873 per semester. The summer school director also would receive a pay hike, she said.

The school board is expected to vote on the recommendations at its Feb. 26 meeting.

The 2017 summer school program included 244 students, down from 266 in 2016, according to a report given by Downers Grove North High School Dean Tim Tilton.

The program was from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Downers Grove North, an hour longer than previous years in order to eliminate Fridays from the program. The slightly longer day featured a limited lunch service in the school cafeteria. The 2018 program will be at Downers Grove South High School.

The 2017 program featured the addition of paraprofessionals in math classes.

“This was extra helpful in order to keep students focused,” Tilton said.

The 2017 program also featured an AP chemistry prep program.

"They were coached on the rigors of [AP chemistry]," Tilton said.

Summer school also included driver’s education, which included 48 students. Fourteen students completed the required behind-the-wheel training necessary to skip the state’s road exam, Tilton said.

Additionally, 35 students earned recovery credits in 44 different classes. For nine students, the recovery program allowed them to earn the credits necessary to get their diploma, Tilton said.

Board member Rick Pavinato asked why the summer school program does not place a greater focus on enrichment and classes to help students get ahead.

"Why can't and don't we look at summer school for the kids to get ahead and knock out something, a requisite, so they could then tap into an AP class a little earlier in their careers or potentially hit a different class that they may not be able to get into?" Pavinato said.

Ziccardi said summer school's condensed time frame makes it difficult to offer enrichment courses. Enrichment classes offered in the past were not popular with students, she said.

Pavinato said advanced students would not be deterred by the quicker pace of summer school curriculum.

"I bet there's a clientele that would take advantage of it," he said.

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