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No summer break for some Washington County students

More schools taking part in program this year

More schools taking part in program this year

July 07, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WASHINGTON COUNTY - More Washington County Public Schools students are participating in summer school this year than last.

This also is the first year that nearly every public school is offering summer school courses.

About $600,000 is spent on summer school in Washington County annually.

Elementary

Last year about 400 elementary school students from across the county attended summer school at one location: Salem Avenue Elementary, said Michael Markoe, assistant superintendent for elementary instruction.

This year students are attending summer school at the schools they attend throughout the year, with the exception of Maugansville and Pangborn elementary schools.

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Those schools will be torn down this summer before new buildings open for students in August. Summer school for Maugansville and Pangborn students is being held at other sites.

"We wanted to expand opportunities for students to attend summer school," Markoe said. "And having it at their home schools allowed principals to tailor the program to the community and to the individual needs of students."

Elementary school students enroll in summer school to maintain their skills and also to "catch up," said Jill Burkhart, director of elementary education.

"There are a lot of different reasons to have summer school," she said. "It's to help students maintain the skills they've had through the year and to reinforce maybe some new skills for students who were lacking in specific areas."

The courses being offered and the number of students participating varies by school, she said. Because summer school is being offered at most elementary schools, she said more students are participating.

Most elementary schools offer reading and math over the summer, but might focus on a particular area depending on the needs of students, Markoe said.

Burkhart said the exact number is not known because much of the oversight of the elementary summer school program is in the hands of the school principals.

Middle and high

Every county middle school has summer school courses for students, as they did last year.

Clyde Harrell, director of high school education, said offering middle school summer school at every school was successful last year, so officials expanded it to high schools this summer. Summer school is being offered at five Washington County public high schools: Boonsboro, North Hagerstown, South Hagerstown, Williamsport and Smithsburg.

Clear Spring High School's summer school programs are being held at Williamsport due to construction, he said.

About 450 high school students are participating in summer school. Harrell said that last year, about 240 students were enrolled.

Officials also added "transition programs" this summer, Harrell said. The programs offer rising ninth-graders an opportunity over the summer to "get ready to go to high school," he said.

"Going from elementary to middle or middle to high is a big step," Harrell said. "We provide a bridge from middle school to high school for those who may need additional support."

While high school students might enroll in summer school to make up a class they have failed, middle school students are invited to attend summer school to improve their skills or maintain them.

Harrell said summer school for middle school students is also more "well-rounded," with students taking physical education, music, art and technology courses in addition to reading and math.

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