The state’s ongoing budget crisis has taken a big bite out of school operating budgets everywhere, including Brentwood, so when BUSD officials realized that utilizing the standard 14-day summer school program for elementary students would put the district $75,000 in the red, a tough decision was made.
“We know that summer school has had a positive impact for many students,” said Dana Eaton, director of student services for BUSD. “However, we believe we can better support students during the school year, and this change will allow us to offer more support classes, with smaller class sizes with more targeted intervention support.”
In the past, state funding allowed the district to hold summer school using funds provided by the state, and still have enough left over to support intervention programs for at-risk students. But because of the cuts to school budgets made in February, the district felt unable to offer both summer school and the intervention programs.
Eaton said the elimination of summer school – which typically serves approximately 750 students – was the logical choice: “Study after study has validated that the most successful interventions provide ongoing targeted support to students as gaps in knowledge appear. That sort of support can’t be provided as well in a once-a-year program with 20 to 30 students in each class.”
Reaction to the summer school announcement has been mostly supportive. Amber Baer, whose son Logan was slated to attend summer school this year, said that initially she was caught off guard by the decision, but eventually came to understand the motives behind it.
“When I first heard about it, I was like ‘What? I’m enrolling my son in summer school,’” said Amber. “But once I thought about it, I realized that it’s only 14 days, and you have to kind of wonder how much they’re really going to learn in that amount of time anyway. If they can save some of our intervention programs, then I think it’s worth it. We’ll just work on our skills at home this summer. It’s OK.”
Brentwood mom Heather Partida said she too is all right with the elimination of the summer program this year: “I’m actually fine with it … As I understand it, the school is using that summer-school money to backfill a program that the Parents Club was going to have to cover, so I’m good.”
Eaton said that by taking a closer look at the resources available to the district, combined with the intervention needs in the classroom during the school year, the decision would best serve all the district’s student needs. Students who currently receive Extended School Year services through an Individualized Education Plan will continue to receive those services as always.
“The summer school program in Brentwood has provided good value to our students,” said Eaton. “Scarce fiscal resources force difficult choices. We believe we are going forward with the best choice to support all our students.”
For additional information, contact the BUSD at 925-513-6300.