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By Rosalind Marshall
Special to The PREVIEW
For four weeks in July, 73 elementary school students are getting the opportunity to improve their academic skills, thanks to the Archuleta County Education Center.
The ACEC saw the need for a summer school program at the elementary school, based on data from its After School Tutoring Program, which runs during the school year. As there was no funding available from the school district, ACEC stepped up to fund 100 percent of the costs of the summer school, with the help of an anonymous donor.
Pagosa Springs Elementary School Principal Kate Lister explained how the summer school program helps students in grades K-4 to sustain the skills they learned during the school year. Without summer school, students tend to lose new skills over the long summer break and need to relearn those skills at the start of their next school year. By maintaining the new knowledge and skill set, students can progress faster as they move through the elementary school, and less time is spent on reteaching material.
For pre-K students, the need is even greater. Lister shared that only half of the kindergarten student intake has the necessary skills to begin school. For the students who don’t have those prerequisite skills, or who have limited English language, summer school is reaching half of these students in need, helping them acquire basic skills such as counting, identifying letters of the alphabet and colors.
Eight members of staff are involved in teaching at the summer school, and it runs from 8 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday, with the emphasis on reading and math skills. The Archuleta County school district is providing the facilities of the elementary school and the program is offered at no cost to families.
During May, parents were contacted by elementary school staff to invite eligible students to attend the summer school and to ensure that parents could provide transport to and from school. Of 120 invitations, 73 students are currently attending. Lister conveyed that the issue of transportation was a problem for some working parents, as students need to be picked up at noon.
Students were formally assessed at the end of the school year, and those attending the summer school program will be re-assessed at the end of the four-week session to evaluate results. Lister’s hope is that the attending pre-K students will have learned the necessary skills to prepare them for starting school in the fall, and students in grades K-4 will have maintained and improved their academic skills.