Columbia summer school has more students, more revenue

Tuesday, September 10, 2013 | 7:39 p.m. CDT; updated 9:08 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, September 10, 2013

COLUMBIA — For the second year, Columbia Public Schools' in-house summer school program has finished with a surplus.

Because the district is a public-sector operation, it's not technically profit. But it is a surplus of revenue over expenses to the tune of $900,000 in 2012 and again this year, said Sally Beth Lyon, chief academic officer for the district.

By contrast, the summer program lost the district almost $2.5 million when it contracted with EdisonLearning.

"Well it's not a one-for-one, like, 'Oh, now we have this money and are going to go spend it on something new,'" Lyon said in an interview Tuesday. "It simply goes back into the general revenue of the school district along with the state aid that we get for a regular school year, patrons' taxes and all of our other sources of revenue so that we can spend it on salaries, keeping the lights on and others things that are expenses of the school district."

Since the district took over the summer school programs in 2010, enrollment in the has increased, Lyon said.

Summer school includes programs for kindergarten through eighth-grade students and ninth- through 12th-graders, an extended school year program and specialty programs.

This year, 7,899 students attended the programs, up from 7,572 last year, according to documents prepared for Columbia School Board members. Lyon recapped the summer for board members at their meeting Monday evening.

"In the olden days back when it was costing us $2.5 million, and we were in a contract with EdisonLearning, they were able to give students a gift card for perfect attendance," Lyon said. "We anticipated when we were no longer giving students a $100 gift card that we would see a decline in enrollment and attendance, and that first year we did. But since then, it has steadily gone back up because of numerous things we have done."

The district now offers summer school in every school, so students can go to their home schools and feel more comfortable in a familiar environment. Also offered were what Lyon called "cool new courses" for high school students and a range of specialty programs, including art explorers and drivers education.

"Our goals of the specialty programs are to provide enrichment opportunities that meet the needs and interests of our students during the summertime at no charge to them," Lyon said.

Students can complete credits or earn advancement credits through the Secondary Summer School High School Credit program. This summer, 81 percent of students participated in the credit advancement portion of the program and 19 percent in the credit completion portion, according to board documents.

Lyon told board members the district hopes to continue to look for ways to increase enrollment in all programs, develop more community partnerships for students and make sure programs are more consistent among schools.

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.

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