SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

February 28, 2013

Saltonstall may lose longer year

Salem: Superintendent wants to offer summer school programs in city instead

(Continued)

The elimination of the extended-year program is being proposed, he said, to offer students from all schools, including Saltonstall, more learning opportunities in the summer.

“I’m trying to find an agreeable solution that not only is going to help Saltonstall continue the work they do, but also will benefit a broader range of kids in the community,” he said.

Marcie Clawson, PTO president at Saltonstall, said she feels a lot of parents will be “very upset” by the proposal.

She said many parents left their neighborhood schools to come to Saltonstall because of the extended-year model. She also said that it was unfair to measure the school’s success merely by MCAS scores because Saltonstall has a number of innovative programs that enrich children in many ways.

“It saddens me to see a program that many choose, work hard to make possible, believe benefits their children in more ways than just MCAS scores be taken away,” she wrote in an email.

The recommendation by Russell, which would need School Committee approval, would not affect Saltonstall this school year and would not begin until the summer of 2014.

It is not clear at this point how much money would be saved by eliminating the 10 extra days at Saltonstall. Whatever the amount, Russell stressed that money is not the prime reason for proposing the change.

“We are not looking at this as a cost savings,” he said, but as a way of “taking those very same dollars we may save and putting them into a broader array of summer programs for more kids.”

The summer enrichment programs would be open to students from Saltonstall and every other city school, he said.

Although plans are tentative, Russell said he envisions holding the summer programs at two or three schools, with about 100 children at each site. He said the program would be based on “high-interest” subjects like robotics or foreign languages that could be used to promote reading and learning.

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