Santa Barbara school board.
The Santa Barbara school board discusses the district's plans for its summer school program during Tuesday night's meeting. Credit: Grace Kitayama / Noozhawk photo

The Santa Barbara Unified School District plans to spend $1.3 million on a robust summer school program to help students catch up on learning loss that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program will last four weeks for all students except a one-week program for junior high school students. 

A presentation on the summer school program was given to the school board this week by Lynne Sheffield, assistant superintendent of secondary schools, and Stanley Munro, assistant superintendent.

“Those students that may have had a slip during the school year, we’re providing an opportunity for them to make that up,” Sheffield said.

About 540 students in kindergarten through fifth grade in the district will be attending summer school this year. Before the pandemic, such a program did not exist in the district for elementary school students.

The program will run from June 20 to July 14 at Franklin, McKinley and Monroe elementary schools, with about 180 students and 12 teachers at each school. The program will focus on English language arts, English language development, and math. 

Much like during the school year, students will attend class five days per week. Instruction will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., followed by an after-school program from 1:15 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

“Every classroom will have a teacher as well as a para[educator],” Munro said.

In the spring of 2022, nearly 75% of elementary students entering the program in third through fifth grades did not meet the standard levels expected of them in math, and 64% did not meet the standard level in reading.

The summer school program was started after students returned to in-person instruction to account for learning loss that occurred during remote schooling.

Board members discussed the program and gave supportive comments. One issue that arose was transportation. 

Board member Virginia Alvarez asked how the district could ensure that all students were provided with transportation to and from school.

“I know we had some trouble with transportation before — everybody does in Santa Barbara,” Alvarez said. “So, how are we going to address that? I want to make sure that the children from Cleveland are able to get to Franklin. How are we going to address the transportation issue?”

The district will work with Student Transportation of America to provide yellow buses for the elementary summer school and for extended school year students as well, said Kim Hernandez, assistant superintendent of business services. 

“We have already been talking to them,” Hernandez said. “And they’re fully ready to be able to support us for that.”

The summer school program begins June 12 for high school students and June 20 for elementary students. 

“This ‘summer of learning’ is part of our efforts to help students reach proficiency levels at the end of each grade,” district spokesman Ed Zuchelli said. “The program has seen pockets of growth in math and reading.”

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Grace Kitayama, Noozhawk Staff Writer

Grace Kitayama is a Noozhawk staff writer.