New Castle News

August 14, 2012

New Castle’s first summer school a success

Debbie Wachter
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — The New Castle School District’s first summer school was a success, both financially and academically.

Most of its students passed, according to Stan Magusiak and Terry Meehan, assistants to the superintendent.

The men reported on the outcome of the summer school to the board at its work session Monday night. Magusiak noted the tuition offset the expenses and there was no cost to the district.

New Castle launched its own summer school after the Lawrence County Career and Technical Center — which had hosted summer school for the whole county — discontinued its program this year because of a lack of funding. That left the local districts to come up with their own programs.

New Castle had 53 students in grades seven through 12 enrolled, and there were 86 courses paid for by the students’ families at $100 each, Magusiak said.

“Not all of them passed, but a lot of them did.”

Four teachers were employed for math, science, English and social studies for students who had failed required courses.

Meehan said the teachers all said if they would encourage the district to continue with the program next year.

The students — some of whom took more than one course — received percentage grades.

Meehan, who could not provide exact figures Monday night, estimated 12 to 15 students — primarily seventh- and eighth- graders, had failed their courses.

Students who had failed two classes in seventh and eighth grades would have been retained had they not taken summer school.

Those who also failed summer school will not advance when school starts, he said, and will have to repeat the entire grade level.

In ninth through 12th grades, the students retook credits they needed for graduation. If they failed a course, they had to repeat it if it is a graduation requirement.

He said about four seniors completed summer school courses and received the diplomas they could not get in June.

“Overall, it helped a lot of kids,” Meehan said, adding the school had a better success rate with the high-schoolers.

“We found the older the students got, the more serious they were about summer school,” he said, “and the seventh- and eighth-graders were where we saw most of our problems. We’re looking closely at that. In most cases it was a total lack of effort.”

The district will work with their families to try to determine why they are apathetic, Meehan said.

“We’re going to look at each individual case to see why the student lacked the goals to succeed, because we certainly made every opportunity available to them this summer.”

Those students who failed the summer school courses are a small percentage of the district’s overall student population, “but it’s still troubling to us,” Meehan said.

What is more surprising, Meehan said, is that their families had paid the $100 per course for them to go, “but it still didn’t resonate.

“We intend to really focus on that group.”