Short break cuts summer schools
A new schedule will require permanent reductions, officials at several schools say
Only 53 Hawaii public schools will offer traditional summer school programs this summer, down from 76 last year, due to the shorter annual summer break going into effect this year.
Summer School in Session
The following Oahu public schools plan to offer complete summer school programs this year:
Aina Haina Elementary
Kahuku High & Intermediate
Mililani Ike Elementary
Mililani Mauka Elementary
Mililani Uka Elementary
Niu Valley Middle
Pearl City Elementary
Pearl City High
Salt Lake Elementary
Officials at several schools say they expect the schedule change to alter summer school for good, forcing schools to offer limited programs, if any, during the shorter summer, and increase credit-gaining opportunities during the regular school year.
Many schools not planning summer enrichment programs this year said the six-week break -- part of a revamped statewide school calendar -- left them unable to find enough time or teachers. Many schools finish the current school year as late as mid-June and must be ready for the resumption of school on July 25.
"The window of opportunity was just too limited," said Radford High School Principal Bob Stevens.
He said the school must set aside time for annual facilities maintenance and for teachers to prepare for the fall semester. That means the 120 hours of instruction time per high school summer credit would have had to be squeezed into just a few weeks.
Schools say not enough teachers have stepped forward to teach this summer since it would effectively mean losing any summer vacation time.
"We'd burn out the teachers that way," Stevens said.
Traditional high school summer enrichment programs involve a fairly comprehensive menu of courses, with enrollment open to students from other schools. Costing $160 per one-credit class, the programs are used mainly to make up failed courses, known as "credit recovery," or for higher achievers to gain extra credits.
Middle and elementary school programs are less extensive.
Many schools, like Radford, will offer nothing at all this summer, while others are offering merely "intercession" programs that feature limited courses only for their own students and only for credit recovery.
"Given the whole situation, we thought that was the best compromise," said Mark Bradley, vice principal of Kaimuki High, who could not recall the last time Kaimuki did not have a full summer school open to students from outside.
Waipahu High, which will offer no summer programs this year, implemented an after-school math credit-recovery program during the current school year in anticipation of the shorter summer. It intends to add other classes to that program in the coming year, said Vice Principal Corinne Fujieda.
Several other schools are discussing similar plans for next year.
"We know we're going to have to do more of that in the future," Fujieda said.
Summer school is not an inalienable student right, she adds.
"Study more during the semester," is her advice to students. "Students have to take responsibility for passing their classes."
Besides the six-week summer, the new school calendar features a week off in the fall, three weeks for Christmas and two for spring break.
The changes pose a challenge for students who count on summer school to amass credits with an eye toward getting into advanced-placement courses later. With fewer schools taking in outside students, opportunities are also limited for taking courses outside their own school.
In Kaimuki High's case, this could be offset by the school's recent adoption of a seven-period bell schedule, which allows students to take one more credit per year than they could under the traditional six-period schedule, Bradley said.
"Credit recovery is essential for completion of high school. Enrichment is not essential. (In the summer) we need to go for credit recovery," he said.