Extra credit summer school option targeted in St. John

Published 12:08 am Wednesday, April 20, 2016

RESERVE — Summer school won’t be solely the domain of students trying to catch up on poor grades if St. John the Baptist Parish School Board members can secure enough funding.

St. John Parish Public School Superintendent Kevin George said the District wants to open classes this summer for high school students interested in picking up extra credits.

Although introduced at the previous School Board meeting this month, George said the School Board’s failed sales tax initiative April 9 could scuttle the program.

“We do feel like this is something that is great for the community and great for the kids,” George said. “It is something that we want to have. When we start laying out the menus of options that the Board has (for funding); of course, this is one of those things (that will be considered). Everything we do costs. We’ll try to protect the classroom as much as possible, but this will be something that, unfortunately, may not happen.”

George said the School Board should make a final decision on the project in the next month.

Students attending high school at St. John Parish public schools will be eligible for the program. Administrators are surveying which students are interested and explaining what courses may be available. The initial plan calls for classes to take place at East St. John High School, which will also be used this summer for students seeking remedial help.

George said the enrichment credits will be offered as a virtual program using Edgenuity software that works at each student’s pace.

“Instead of having to hire a bunch of different teachers to teach a bunch of different subjects, we can hire a few teachers who are certified in different areas, and they can teach multiple kids because it’s a virtual learning program,” George said. “The heavy lifting will be done by the computer system.”

District 8 School Board Member Russ Wise said the effort has been a long time coming.

“The first year I joined the Board, I was amazed to learn that Summer School was only for kids who had failed in class,” he said. “It was one of several places where I’ve believed that we spend so much time and money trying to save potential dropouts that we wind up ignoring our best and brightest. Now that’s beginning to change.”

Wise stressed the School District already offers advanced-placement classes for students to earn college credits.

“Letting students take courses ahead of their normal schedules can lead to earlier graduations or can let kids take classes they normally wouldn’t have time for during the regular school year,” he said. “My hat’s off to Superintendent George and his staff for making this possible.”