Summer school is reinstated

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Following a series of budget cuts, the Board of Trustees of the Tamalpais Union High School District voted unanimously to reinstate summer school for the next two years. After receiving a one-time disbursement of about $729,000, the district will now be able to serve over 800 students a year to earn credits and fulfill graduation requirements over the summer.

“This is fabulous news for Tam District,” said Superintendent Laurie Kimbrel in a statement on the district website. “We are pleased to be able to support this program that directly serves our students.”

The funding came from the United States legislature, which recently passed a bill designating $23 billion to help states support education and provide necessary relief to schools, as part of the Keep Our Educators Working Act. The bill’s restrictions require that the money be spent by the end of 2012. Also, the funds are only a one-time disbursement and do not guarantee the continuation of summer school once the money is spent.

Previously, the cancellation of summer school limited students’ options to make up credits. Junior Claudia Visona, who will go summer school this year for world history, would “be in trouble” if summer school had not been reinstated. “I’m ecstatic that summer school is back so now I can graduate from high school,” she said.

Without the option of summer school, students would have had to repeat the entire class to make up credits. “It’s good not to have to completely restart and just have the condensed summary,” said junior James Macdonald.

The option of summer school makes it possible for students to improve their academic record through condensed classes, lessening the likelihood of students needing to repeat a grade, transfer to the district’s continuation school San Andreas, or even drop out of school.

As of 2008, the district had a drop-out rate of approximately 2.8 percent, meaning, only 2.8 percent of students do not earn their high school diploma. In comparison to other districts in California, this is a very low rate.

According to a survey by Civic Enterprises in 2006, 70 percent of high school drop-outs felt that summer school, tutoring, and extra time with teachers would have improved their chances at graduating.

The reinstatement of summer school makes if possible for struggling students to improve their academic record. Junior Danilo Urquia said, “I think [summer school] is a life saver. Why I started not doing well was because I got sick for like a month and then I got lost.”

Similarly, other students benefit from summer school through the computer proficiency workshops.

“Last summer I took the three-day computer course. I failed one of the tests, meaning I have to retake it,” said junior Connor Caproni, who is still in the process of fulfilling the district’s graduation requirement. “Before I would have had to take the course [at Tam], which would’ve taken up a semester. It’s a lot easier to get it done.” However, summer school is sometimes viewed as a way to obtain credits through less work. Some students admittedly do not try as hard to pass their classes because they have the option to make it up during summer.

“I was failing and then I just stopped trying because I already knew I was going to summer school,” said junior Kate Konstantynowicz, who went to summer school for English and history.

Yet summer school is still a positive experience for most students. “I think summer school is good because you can get credits that you can’t normally get in the semester. First I thought that my summer vacation was going to suck but it was actually fun. The teachers were good and I didn’t have much homework. Summer school is just for a month but you can get lots of credit and you get to see people from other schools. That’s where I found new friends,” said senior Nanako Blumenthal who went to summer school in 2010.

The Board’s decision to use the government disbursement to reinstate summer school will help students meet graduation requirements for the next two years. After 2012, the district will have to either cancel summer school or find another means of funding the program.

Written by Allie Knauer. This article originally appeared in the January 2011 issue.