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Driver's ed, pay raises among 2024 CPS summer school initiatives

A close-up of a yellow school bus is shown. There is a red stop sign and the bus number is 120.
Robin Jonathan Deutsch
The Columbia Public Schools Finance Committee meeting was held Wednesday.

The return of in-seat driver’s education courses and raises for summer school instructors in 2024 were announced Wednesday at a Columbia Public Schools Finance Committee meeting.

The district plans to work with Joe Machens Dealerships to provide students behind-the-wheel instruction after not offering it in 2023, Chief Financial Officer Heather McArthur and Summer School Coordinator Bonnie Conley said.

Additionally, summer school instructors will receive a pay raise from $27 per hour to $30 per hour in 2024.

As well as previewing plans for next summer, the district reviewed 2023 summer school data.

Conley said she was pleased with summer school attendance rates this year. The percentage of students actively attending summer school was consistently higher in the summer of 2023 than in the summer of 2022.

“We’re getting back to kind of where we were before we had the major turbulence and disruptions and COVID was hitting us,” Finance Committee chair Blake Willoughby said.

The total enrollment for all 2023 summer school programs was 9,408. Summer school enrollment continues to be about 50% of regular school year students, according to a presentation from the meeting. Average class sizes for 2023 summer school programs were fewer than 25 students per class.

“To see this level of engagement and enrichment and (the) levels of commitment by the teachers, by the administrators ... you’re not going to find that anywhere else,” Superintendent Brian Yearwood said.

Average daily attendance during summer school programs factors into the amount of funding the district receives. The more students who attend, the more money the district receives.

“Summer school is a moneymaker for us,” McArthur said.

The district offers a variety of in-seat and online summer school courses and special programs. Examples of summer courses for high school students include ACT preparation, public speaking and woodworking, among many more. The district also offered a financial math summer course for the first time in 2023.

The district does not anticipate that as many schools will be closed for construction next summer than in previous years, McArthur said. The pay raise, in conjunction with teachers being in their own buildings, will help with hiring, Conley said.

Finance Committee meetings are now publicly available to watch via live stream.

The Columbia Missourian is a community news organization managed by professional editors and staffed by Missouri School of Journalism students who do the reporting, design, copy editing, information graphics, photography and multimedia.
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