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School Zone: How D.C. school systems work with summer programs

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In this week’s edition of School Zone, we assess the state of summer program staffing in the DC region.

Welcome to School Zone, WTOP’s weekly edition of the latest topics and trends in education in the DC region.

The state of staffing of the summer school

What is it: As the third school year impacted by the pandemic comes to a close, some D.C. teachers are turning their attention to vacations and vacations. Others, however, have begun planning summer sessions.

In addition to extended school year programs for students with Individual Education Plans, some school systems offered additional summer opportunities.

Many of those programs start this month, and most are fully booked, school officials told me.

What does that mean: Last year, for example, a school district in Fairfax County, Virginia, recruited teachers for an extended school year program designed for students whose IEP teams recommend attending summer programs so they don’t fall behind during long breaks.

Despite the bonuses, staff shortages forced the district to split the summer program into two sessions. The program start date was moved while recruitment was underway.



Michelle Boyd, the district’s assistant superintendent for special services, told me that last summer’s hiring struggles were unlike anything Virginia’s largest school system has ever experienced, likely due to the challenges of virtual learning and the fact that it was the first summer since vaccines against COVID-19 were available.

To avoid staffing shortages this summer, Boyd said, the district began talking to staff earlier and increased the daily maximum rate for classroom teachers from $48 an hour to $68 an hour.

Fairfax has also created a public dashboard that tracks hiring progress for various positions.

About 3,800 students have enrolled in the ESY program, and Boyd said 99.8% of positions are filled.

Boyd said the district has enough staff to handle all but nine students. The school system is working with their families to “ensure these students are served.”

Going forward, Boyd said, the district is considering offering a percentage of teachers extended contracts that would include ESY, “so we have a smaller hiring pool just for this summer.”

Regional shot: A spokeswoman for Prince William County Schools said about 9,400 students are enrolled in summer school and that the programs are fully staffed.

A representative told me that all summer programs in Loudoun County are “up and running” but some groups have had to be combined to make up for staff shortages.

Summer programs in Arlington County are fully staffed, the spokesman said.

In Montgomery County, Maryland, about 96% of ESY students have an in-person teacher, but 172 will participate in classes virtually.

The district said teachers in the program are getting a pay raise, but it’s still about 20 instructors short.

For affected families, the district plans to pay $19 an hour to support caregivers while the program is in place and plans to provide additional services for those students in the fall.

Chris Crum, the county’s director of communications, said summer hiring is “especially challenging. Our teachers work for 10 months, it is not necessary. We really value our summer programs because it’s not only an opportunity for kids to catch up, but it’s an opportunity for kids to be enriched to get ahead of their studies and explore other things as well.”

Topics of conversation: Bob Marple, principal of Cedar Lane School in Loudoun County, said the school runs its own summer program, with 15 third-, fourth- and fifth-graders participating. Marple said he hasn’t had any difficulty recruiting teachers, but some colleagues have told him about staffing issues.

Marple said he asked the student, “How was your first day of summer school?” And he said, “Oh my God, that was wonderful.” I can’t wait to go back tomorrow.” To me, that’s a measure of incredible success that we have kids who are excited to come and work with these teachers.”



Boyd, of Fairfax County, said recruiting can be challenging “because even in a non-pandemic year or a traditional year, being a teacher is a hard and rewarding job. Our staff work very long hours in school, but also outside of the school day, to prepare and individualize lessons to meet the needs of students.”

Thomas Rivera-Figueroa, Montgomery County’s hiring manager, said the district has been able to fill most of the vacancies, “but again, if you’re not achieving, it still affects students and we’re aware of that. »

Virginia AG seeks to bar public hearing in Loudoun Co. school board case

In a court filing, Virginia Attorney General Jason Miares is asking a judge to bar the public from Monday’s hearing in a lawsuit filed by the district’s school board, which seeks to stop a special grand jury from going forward.

I spoke with WTOP’s Neil Augenstein for the latest information.

Q: What did Miyares say in the new statement?

A: On Monday, a Loudoun County Circuit Court judge is scheduled to hear arguments in the school board’s attempt to stop any further action by a special grand jury convened by Miyares. The school board is seeking a temporary injunction, which is what this three-hour hearing should be about.

Miyares filed a motion to have the hearing closed to the public and the transcript sealed. He says opening the hearings to the public would damage the normally secret process of a grand jury criminal investigation. Miyares says there is no First Amendment right of access to a jury trial or any hearings that discuss this grand jury process.

Miyares says if the judge holds the hearing open to the public, his office will still be bound by grand jury confidentiality rules, so he will be significantly limited in the arguments he can make.

The attorney general said the public hearing could lead to a scenario where a judge would have to repeatedly open and close hearings: “Assuming that the First Amendment compels the court to hold such hearings … vacating the courtroom every time a grand jury case reaches a tipping point the tongue of a lawyer or a judge – to assume something ridiculous. We fully agree that the courts cannot and should not be forced to conduct their business in this way,” Miyares wrote, referring to the earlier opinion of the appeal.

Q: What’s next?

A: It is unclear. I imagine the school board’s attorney will file a motion to have the court hearing open to the public. The judge will likely rule early on whether the hearing should be held in public. Otherwise, the judge will rule on Monday, July 11, when the hearing is scheduled.

[Read more about the court filing on WTOP.com]

By the numbers
Some data that caught my attention this week.

Student matinee: Earlier this week, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced $2 million from the USDA to expand breakfast programs in more than 100 public and public charter schools.

The money can be used for things like purchasing food service equipment, according to a news release.

[Read more about the funding on WTOP.com]

What Scott is reading

  • 3 Virginia universities to offer 24-hour mental health services to students [WTOP]
  • DC Announces 3-Year Investment to Support LGBTQ+ Students [WTOP]
  • A Virginia-based designer HBCU apparel brand is hitting department stores [WTOP]
  • Prince George’s School Board Candidates Unveil COVID Recovery Plans [Washington Post]
  • Two MCPS students died over the Fourth of July weekend, according to the district [Bethesda Beat]
  • A local nonprofit organization is launching a Back to School donation drive to support FCPS students [FFX Now]
  • The number of juvenile arrests in Arlington dropped significantly during the past school year [Arl Now]

Excursion

Here’s an interesting thought for the weekend.

Sunny state: We are going to Florida for a long weekend to hopefully spend time at the beach, with friends and family. There might also be a trip to your favorite Italian restaurant, The Big Cheese.

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