Oregon’s largest school district on Thursday unveiled plans for what it calls the “most robust” summer program in state history starting later this month.
Portland Public Schools’ $15 million program includes summer camps and child care programs accommodating more than 7,500 students. For high school students, the district offers more than 500 job opportunities, as well as slots for the district’s “Summer Acceleration Academy” program.
“There are opportunities for students of all ages from K-12,” Cheryl Proctor, assistant superintendent of instruction and school communities for PPS, said at a Thursday morning news conference. Proctor said these opportunities cover a range of student needs, including “academic support, high school student credit, enrichment activities, culturally-specific learning experiences, and specialized supports.” for our disabled students.
This summer’s offerings follow a first year of programs that met with mixed reviews from parents and students and fell short of enrollment goals. District leaders say they are better prepared this time around.
“We learned a lot last summer,” said PPS Learning Acceleration Director Dana Nerenberg.
Nerenberg said the district began planning, hiring and collaborating “much earlier,” including convening a summer steering committee last December with stakeholders.
“Also, now that we’ve had our students in school this year, we have more information about their specific learning needs,” she said.
The district plans to serve about 5,000 students in its Summer Acceleration Academy, a four-week program for elementary and middle school students focused on catching up with students who have fallen behind during the pandemic. Nerenberg said 4,000 students have already enrolled.
Other academic programs include the Summer Scholars Completion program, in which the district hopes to provide up to 3,000 credits to high school students who may not be on track to graduate on time, Nerenberg said.
In addition to the academic programs offered directly by the district, PPS also partners with more than 50 organizations to offer free summer enrichment camps and child care services.
Dani Ledezma, PPS’s senior director of racial equity and social justice, said the district went through a thorough contracting and vetting process with these community partners.
Some partner groups include Portland-based Village Resiliency, which will offer programs for middle school students focused on social and emotional health. Other camps with other local organizations will focus on a range of subjects, including songwriting, drama and science.
Students enrolled in PPS Indian and Migrant Education programs will also have access to culturally appropriate summer activities.
Hundreds of high school students will have the opportunity to earn money and experience by working for some of the summer programs, including with local organizations such as the Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization, also known as the name of IRCO, and Self Enhancement, Inc., or SEI. District officials say many of these organizations have already begun hiring processes for these students.
Deputy Superintendent Proctor said much of the programming is supported by one-time funding, including pandemic relief dollars.
“We will look at any opportunities we have in the future to continue to provide these types of opportunities to our students,” Proctor said.
Some of the programming will begin on June 21, others will take place later in the summer. PPS officials said parents can still enroll their children in many programs and camps via the PPS website.