Thursday, May 6, 2021
Schools throughout Pima County will offer free summer school programs thanks to an increase in federal funds.
Marana Unified School District expanded its free summer programs, from preschool programs to high school summer recovery programs, for June and July.
“This year, we had a tremendous opportunity to expand our programs with additional grants and Federal funding,” Assistant Superintendent Kristin Reidy said in a prepared statement. “Our teachers have really stepped up and are developing engaging activities and curriculum for students. We encourage our families to take advantage of this extended learning!”
Marana received about $4.7 million in ESSER II funds with about $1 million allocated for MUSD’s Summer Enrichment Programs, which funds staffing for teachers and support service staff across the District, as well as safety and mitigation resources, curriculum activities and resources, and professional collaboration contract hours for teachers, said district spokesperson Alli Benjamin.
Marana is also offering remote or virtual options for some of the summer programs.
“The remote offerings, it's just different formats to best reach all students,” Benjamin said, adding that some students or parents may not feel comfortable with an in-person setting.
Amphitheater Unified School District is also offering free summer programs from kindergarten through high school in their Amp Up Summer Programs. Those programs are in-person only.
Tucson Unified School District, like Marana Unified School District, will offer remote options for some summer programs, including K-5 GATE Summer Enrichment Program and the Summer High School Blocks. Parents and students have until June 2 to register for the TUSD Summer Experience programs.
Superintendent Dr. Gabriel Trujillo said remote options are limited due to a lack of teachers during the summer.
“The reason we're offering remote now is because all of our teachers are on contract, all 2,800, so we can handle the responsibility of a dual-option,” said Trujillo. “Summer school is voluntary. Teachers are off contract at that time and there's no way that we're going to have enough teachers. We're going to be fortunate to just get enough teachers to cover the physical classes in person. There really is no way we're going to be able to cover a remote option. We're just not going to get enough teachers to volunteer.”
Trujillo said the summer programs this year will offer extended hours for a longer time than the previous three-week summer school, as well as more detailed programming. Differing from previous years, TUSD will offer summer school at all schools in the district and will offer free transportation and meals for all students. TUSD received about $76.3 million in ESSER II funds, and planned to allocate around $25 million to academic recovery, which includes the extended summer school recovery programs.
“Recognizing the challenge of thousands and thousands of students who have been outside of the classroom, outside of in-person classes for a whole year, this requires a longer, more detailed and more accessible program for parents and students,” said Trujillo.