Posted September 1, 2015
Area school districts are committed to ensuring students have access
to high-quality summer learning experiences to help them get the
most out of their school careers.
This summer, approximately 1,200 sixth- through 12th-grade students from 11 area school districts gained access to Regional Summer Schools operated by Capital Region BOCES. The programs were housed at three sites â€” Middleburgh High School, Schenectady High School and Mohonasen High School. Participating districts included Berne-Knox-Westerlo, Cobleskill-Richmondville, Guilderland, Middleburgh, Mohonasen, Niskayuna, Schalmont, Schenectady, Schoharie, Scotia-Glenville and Sharon Springs. Student enrollment varied by district, but ranged this summer anywhere from nine to 623 participating students.
â€œWeâ€™re very small and rural, so having BOCES facilitate allows us to maximize opportunities for our students and county,â€� said Middleburgh Superintendent Michele Weaver.
Cost savings are part of, but not the only reason area school districts are turning to Capital Region BOCES for summer school programming.
â€œThere are some savings, but I donâ€™t believe to the degree itâ€™s the entire reason we went to the regional model,â€� said Weaver. â€œWeâ€™re able to offer more courses to a greater number of students while accessing a wider pool of teachers.â€�
For some students, summer school means the difference between graduating or dropping out; yet programming is not a state requirement.
"Without the regional model, there are districts that might offer a limited program or not offer summer school school at all," said Mohonasen Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Spring. "In these times of economic instability, it allows all schools to provide summer school. The collaboration allows us to offer a variety of courses to more students.â€�
School and BOCES officials agree itâ€™s important to offer summer school because students have so many competing factors during the school year.
â€œSummer school affords students an opportunity to revisit the curriculum, while narrowing their focus on one or two courses so that they can successfully recover credits,â€� said Capital Region BOCES Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Lynne Wells. â€œIt provides students another pathway for earning a high school diploma.â€�
Each regional site offers a range of academic courses for students who have taken courses in core subjects during the regular school year and were not successful or who wish to improve their grades in a subject or on a Regents exam.
The regional approach also affords students exposure to many different learning experiences.
For example, an incoming Schalmont High School junior said she enjoyed the opportunity this summer to learn in a different school district [Mohonasen], meet new people and participate in longer classes with short breaks.
"Its a great opportunity for our students and staff to learn," said Schenectady City School District Superintendent Dr. Laurence Spring. "Obviously, students are learning some traditional content, but our staff has an opportunity to work with some folks from other systems and that creates new learning as well."
Districts work collaboratively and cooperatively with BOCES to determine the course offerings and site location. Human resources functions, such as hiring, retention and payroll, are handled primarily by the BOCES so school officials can focus their attention on school improvement efforts and preparing for the upcoming school year.
"One of the challenges we faced in developing the BOCES Regional Summer School program was reaching consensus regarding policies," said BOCES Executive Principal of Regional Summer School Michael Kondratowicz, noting that each of the 11 districts have variations in attendance, disciplinary and grading policies. "However, the site principals and BOCES staff have been successful in collaborating to create as much consistency as possible among the three sites.â€�
According to BOCES and school officials, evaluating the programâ€™s success will involve a number of indicators, including anecdotal feedback from teachers and students, raw data on test scores and the total number of students who began and completed summer programs.
"I am very impressed and happy with the cooperative summer school model," said Spring.
Thanks to a partnership with the Northeastern
Regional Information Center (NERIC), participating districts
benefited from the use of a central online student information
â€œItâ€™s a huge undertaking, but itâ€™s been a success for the past two years,â€� said John S. Wyld III, technical account manager at NERIC.
The majority of districts were already familiar with the system, but training and support was provided to all on the enhanced functionality, which enables participating districts to electronically submit student registration and course requests to the host district, and teachers and staff to input grades and track attendance.
NERIC also assisted districts with the reporting process.
Instead of having 11 districts each print its own summer progress reports and report cards in several different ways, NERIC assisted with gathering data and printing reports for each site. Capital Region BOCES then handled the mailing.
"Its been nice to work more with our counterparts in other divisions,â€� said Wyld. â€œThats what BOCES is all about â€” collaboration, increasing efficiencies and reducing costs."
Students currently register at their home schools, and may sign up
at that time for walk-in Regents exams. Each location currently
offers two class periods â€” one from approximately 8 a.m. to 10:15 a.m.,
followed by another two hour and 15-minute block until approximately 12:35
Monday through Thursday.
Transportation is not typically provided by home districts, so students are responsible for getting to and from the site locations.
This is the third consecutive year BOCES has facilitated Regional Summer School programs.
For more information about Regional Summer School, contact Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Lynne Wells, (518) 862-4930 or firstname.lastname@example.org.