Some students in Maine Township High School District 207 are not signing up for summer schools because they cannot afford it, administrators said at the school board meeting on Nov. 7.
The number of students that took summer school classes dropped from 7,735 in 2008 to 6,769 in 2011 across the district, according to a report presented at the meeting. Over the three-year period all three high schools, and in Park Ridge and in Des Plaines, experienced reduced enrollments.
Scholarships are available, but they don’t pay the full cost, and sometimes that’s not enough, said Barbara Dill-Varga, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction.
“Some of our students have to work, or perhaps they have to stay home and provide child care,” Dill-Varga said.
Other students travel back to their families’ countries of origin for the summer, said Audrey Haugan, principal at Maine West.
Dino Di Legge, assistant principal at Maine East, said administrators try to persuade students to enroll in summer school, especially those that need to make up credits to graduate on time, but they are not always successful.
“A scholarship is a discounted price for a course,” Di Legge said. “There’s still an out-of-pocket cost, and it’s only for one course. If a student needs more than one, the family has to pay for them.”
In past years, some students would take up to three summer school classes, usually to get requirements out of the way, Di Legge said. “Now it’s very rare that kids take three classes.”
That’s in contrast to some neighboring districts, where summer school enrollments have been on the rise as some students are working ahead. It also comes at a time when the district is trying to make the summer school program come closer to paying for itself.
The district raised summer school tuition last year, increased the size of some classes and moved to a four-day a week schedule.
In addition to saving on overhead, the new schedule proved popular with both students and teachers.
If all students enrolled in summer school paid their own way, Dill-Varga said, the district would be close to breaking even.
The district provided approximately $90,000 in scholarships to students last year to help pay for summer classes, up about 46 percent, Dill-Varga said. In the past, the district was able to fund summer school scholarships from the proceeds of soda machines; now it must dip into the education budget.
To help close the gap, District 207 intends to charge $410, up from $400, for a full-credit course. Half-credit courses would be $205, up from $200, and quarter-credit courses would be $105, up from $100. Driver’s education would remain at $350.
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