(Des Moines, IA) -- The state's largest school district has tripled it's summer school offerings. Classes started this week for students in all grades. Normally only a few hundred high school students enroll in summer school, but the district received extra federal COVID relief funding, and expanded the program to 3,000 students of all ages.
District Spokesman Phil Roeder says normal summer school budget is $250,000. This year's it's considerably more at $2.5 million. He also points out the program will serve about 1 in 10 students in the district.
He says summer school is not mandated, but many families concerned about pandemic learning gaps are taking advantage of programs. Younger children will focus on the basics, including reading and math in the morning hours. Afternoons will include activities provided by Metro Kids, and other community partners.
“Everyone’s life was impacted in one way or another due to the pandemic, including students across the state and nation as schools functioned in uncharted territory, trying to find a balance between the public’s health and our children’s education,” said Matt Smith, associate superintendent at DMPS. “There is no denying the fact that this affected our students in many different ways, which is why hundreds of DMPS teachers and staff are committed to helping students this summer, both making up areas from this past year and being prepared for a strong start to a new school year in August.”
More than 1,100 elementary students are at a dozen sites around the city. Middle school students are at six DMPS locations, including a special program for 8th graders headed to high school. High school students will focus helping students meet graduation requirements.
The summer school program ends in mid-August, a couple of weeks before the start of the 2021-2022 school year.
Roeder says bus service and meals are provided. The district provides a summer lunch program to all students, regardless of enrollment in summer school.