Jefferson City Public Schools made the decision this year to allow open enrollment for summer school to all preschool through eighth-grade students in the Jefferson City area. Last year only students attending JCPS and who needed remediation were allowed to enroll.
This change has increased participation by 40 percent. During the first week of summer school, 2,786 students attended classes, 804 more than last year.
Amy Berendzen, director of school-community relations for JCPS said the district made this change because it had the space.
“This is the one year, the first in several that we’ve not been in the middle of any school construction or upgrades to facilities,” Berendzen said. “So, that would enable us to keep all of our buildings online.”
Berendzen said the increase in enrollment is also due to changing views on summer school. Years ago, parents thought it was for troubled students who had problems learning. Berendzen said now they look at summer school as a way to continue student’s educational opportunities.
Berendzen also said its summer school program is a 16-day extension of the school year. It allows students an extra opportunity to work in-depth on skills they are lacking, need to improve or just want to continue into the summer.
The program focuses on reading skills, which helps students get ready for the coming school year.
“We focus on reading not only to culminate the school year that just ended but also to carry them forward as they move into the next reading or grade level.” Berendzen said.
Berendzen said the district opened enrollment to all students in the Jefferson City area because it is important to allow everyone the opportunity to learn.
“It is our responsibility not just to educate the kiddos that come to us in a public school setting,” Berendzen said. “But also to educate all kids within our community.”
JCPS had to hire additional staff members to handle the extra students. However, the change will still benefit the district because the enrollment increase is boosting attendance hours that will increase the amount of state funding the district will get for the coming school year.