Kansas City Public Schools Expands Summer School Offerings

Apr 12, 2016

Students at Whittier Elementary School show off a science project. Kansas City Public Schools says science will be a focus of its summer school offerings this year.
Credit Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Summer is a time that all educators dread to some degree. No matter how well students do during the school year there is generally some slippage during the summer break.

That's especially true in urban districts like the Kansas City Public Schools (KCPS).

The district has expanded its summer school offerings over the past few years and says it expects more students to enroll this summer.

“Yes, we are expanding the number of locations and continuing to grow all the time. We’re increasing and looking for additional partners to provide greater opportunities and greater experiences for kids," says Acting Superintendent Al Tunis.

The district has partnered with 7 Strategic, AileyCamp, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City, Local Investment Commission (LINC), Upper Room and the YMCA this summer.

“The kids don’t really need a vacation," says Brent Schondelmeyer with LINC who has been running summer school in KCPS buildings for years. "The kids really need a place to be and the results in the prior years have shown student gains around reading and math.”

Many of the summer programs will focus on science and technology. “We have a lot of science opportunities for our students this summer,” says Principal Christy Harrison from Trailwoods Elementary School.

Science has been a continuing problem for KCPS. The district's students have done poorly on the Missouri state assessment test. “It’s intentional for us to focus on science, something that may not have had the same element of focus as it really needs and what we plan to do in the future,” says Tunis.

Tunis says because most of the KCPS summer classes will be taught by certified teachers the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) will pick up most of the cost.

The summer program is open to any student in Kansas City. They don't have to currently be a KCPS student.

Last year when the district expanded summer school, it hoped to use it as a marketing tool to lure students away from private and charter schools.

Only 50 percent of school age children in the KCPS boundaries actually attend a district school.

Sam Zeff covers education for KCUR. He's also co-host of KCUR's political podcast Statehouse Blend. Follow him on Twitter @samzeff.