Members of the Barbour County Board of Education say they are pleased with the progress of the summer school program at Philip Barbour High School, and now they're considering options to fund the session next year.
"We have some great news to report," Elaine Benson, director of personnel, told the board in initiating a discussion on the program's success.
A student with leukemia graduated as a result of summer schooling. She finished her courses this summer, obtaining five credits, and won't have to return in the fall, Benson and James Poling, one of Barbour County's credit recovery teachers, explained.
This student, whose name was not released for reasons of confidentiality, has not been the only one to benefit from the summer school program. Poling said two students were able to participate in graduation and finish up with requirements before school was out.
Benson explained that there was previously a long period of time without summer school at Philip Barbour High School. For the last four years, there has been a summer school program of some form.
"I think our students suffered because we didn't have it," Benson said, adding that "our challenge next summer is to find the funding."
GEAR UP funding that was obtained at a regional level instead of a federal level expired on June 30 and Ed Jobs, federal stimulus funding, will expire on Sept. 30, but that won't allow for the money to be used for the same or similar programs next summer.
Barbour County Schools applied for GEAR UP at the federal level, but was not approved. However, Benson says they "may try again."
"With this amount of credits recovered, it's vital I believe, for our students to be able to have this opportunity next summer," Benson said.
The Board of Education will look into areas where some less necessary expenses may help add to the funding for the summer school program. One such expense would be the operation of buses for the program.
"Buses are an optional thing. It does make a difference for the kids to be able to get there, particularly some of our students that have problems with transportation," Benson said.
Expenses to run the program include teacher salaries, licensing, utilities and more. Barbour County Superintendent of Schools Joe Super estimates that the program cost is about $22,000 to $23,000.
"I know it's a lot of money, but it's a small amount if you can save one or two students," David Strait, Board of Education president, said.
The credit recovery program started on June 7 and concluded on Friday. It yielded 54 students earning 95 credits. There were 14 courses offered with the most commonly needed class being English 11. Other most needed classes included Algebra I, Algebra I Support and English 10. These were not the only make-up credit courses offered.
Other students have either recently finished caching up or obtained various credits by Friday. Poling said some who have recently completed their requirements have left the summer schooling program happily.
"It energizes them because they're out of the hole they dug for themselves," Benson said.
Initially, the program was for juniors and seniors, but is no longer restricted to only the two upper grade levels. Because funding came from both Ed Jobs and GEAR UP, the program was opened to all levels at Philip Barbour High School.
"That's what I'm excited about, not letting them get so far behind," Strait said.
The board will continue to consider ways to fund the summer school program for the benefit of the students.