Germantown summer school options disappoint

Members want to add 'cool programs' to choices

April 10, 2013

Germantown - While plans are in motion for Germantown School District's 2013 summer school program, some officials are looking into the future and pondering the prospect of enhancing course offerings.

Maria Kucharski, director of teaching and learning, came before the School Board on Monday and presented a list of course proposals for the upcoming summer session.

Many of the courses are remedial and aimed at getting younger students up to speed in core subjects and offering high schoolers an opportunity to gain lost credits due to failure of a class.

Although a few enrichment classes - most notably for students in band - are also included, several board members bemoaned the lack of more types of classes.

"Personally, I'm disappointed this is all we offer for summer school," board member Bruce Warnimont said. "Actually, I'm deeply distressed about it."

Board member Thomas Barney offered a perspective of what a neighboring district has to offer through such hands-on offerings as robotics classes.

"I have a co-worker who has kids taking summer classes in Slinger," Barney said. "In that school district, they have kids going to some really cool programs."

Germantown had offered more enrichment classes in the past, but opted to scale back in the 1990s. Board member Sarah Larson, who grew up attending Germantown schools, said she fondly recalled some of the different classes that had been offered in the summer.

Kucharski, who assumed her position in October, has past experience in the summer school arena. In the Kettle Moraine School District, she helped oversee a program that had an average enrollment of 1,900 students.

Like any policy or program decision within a district, summer school comes down to dollars and cents. Kucharski said Kettle Moraine received more state aide by offering a robust summer school program.

However, Kucharski said the district had to plan accordingly and fund the programs initially through the operating budget.

"We'd really have to budget for changes in a huge way if we'd want to go down that path (in Germantown)," Kucharski said.

No firm decisions were made during Monday's deliberations, but Kucharski said she would look into the prospect further if she was directed to do so from board members.

This summer, the summer school program students exiting kindergarten to grade 8 will again last five weeks and will emphasize small class sizes and individualized attention. Classes are to begin June 18 and wrap July 18.

"Teachers communicate with parents of children who are not experiencing success with their grade level content standards and benchmark assessments," Kucharski said. "(Teachers) encourage parents to send the children to summer school for more intensive work on the necessary skills and concepts."

The summer make-up classes for high schoolers will be geared toward students completing their freshman and sophomore years.

"Students are required to successfully complete 36 hours of instruction to gain credit for a course that was failed during the school year," Kucharski said.

With board approval granted for this year's summer school roster, Kucharski and other administrators will begin the process of seeking out qualified teachers.

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