COLUMBIA — Enrollment in the Columbia Public Schools' free summer school program is up by 1,200 students from last year.
Currently, the Summer Journey 2009 program has 6,300 students enrolled at the kindergarten- through eighth-grade level, said Mary Humlicek, summer school director for Columbia Public Schools; another 1,100 are enrolled in a program for ninth- through 12th-grade students. *In 2008, a total of 6,200 students were enrolled before the program started; 5,500 students participated.
Lynn Barnett, assistant superintendent for student support services, said she thinks there are several reasons enrollment is up.
“It provides families with a free option for activities if they can’t afford camps," she said. "Summer school is free and provides students with quality opportunities to maintain their academic growth from the previous school year.”
Also, high school graduation requirements have increased to 24 credits, up from 22, Barnett said, so students who couldn't fulfill their credit requirements during the year can make it up during the summer.
The school district has expanded the summer school program to include three new sites at Parkade, Fairview and Russell Boulevard elementary schools, Humlicek said. These additions are possible because the schools now have air conditioning as part of a project completed in August.
The Summer Journey 2009 program, from June 15 to July 17, is run by EdisonLearning, which was formerly Newton Learning. It has run the district's summer school program for six years.
In addition to the EdisonLearning program, a fee-based summer enrichment program is offered for two weeks in July and two weeks in August, Humlicek said. The program appeals to families with children participating in other camps and family vacations that don’t last the entire summer, she said.
Amanda Ray moved to Columbia in January from the Dayton, Ohio, area. Her two sons, Andrew, in the second grade, and Alex, in kindergarten, will attend the EdisonLearning summer school program at Paxton Keeley, she said.
As an incentive, EdisonLearning offers a $100 Visa gift card to students with perfect attendance, Humlicek said.
“Believe it or not, (the boys) asked to go," Ray said. "The gift offer is really enticing.”
She said nothing like this is offered in the Dayton area. Andrew is excited about a magic show class he will take this summer, Ray said.
“It gives them an opportunity for different activities other than staying at home,” she said.
The deadline to enroll in summer school was May 1, though some spots might still be available. Parents interested in enrolling their students in the kindergarten- through eighth-grade level sessions can go to the EdisonLearning office at 555 Vandiver Drive. Those students at the ninth- through 12th-grade level should speak with a guidance counselor.