By Mary O’KEEFE
With the Glendale school district facing a $50 million deficit in the next three years the board and administration must make some tough cost saving choices. Summer school will be one of the first programs to fall.
The plan laid out by the administration at Tuesday’s school board meeting would not eliminate summer school but have a portion of it as a fee based program.
Remedial summer school will still be available for free. This will allow students who fail a class retake it. Students who want to take a summer class to advance their studies or free up a period to enroll in an elective like sports or drama during regular semesters would have to pay.
Assistant superintendents of education services Kathy Fundukian Thorossian and Richard Sheehan explained that many other districts like Pasadena and Burbank no longer offer summer school. The fee based program at least gives students an option, Thorossian said.
“I wish I could keep it for free,” she said.
Summer school costs the district $2.3 million a year. Some of that cost would be saved cutting the summer school advancement classes.
“We have compared fees with other districts that offer summer school through this type of program,” Thorossian said. “There are a couple of ways we looked at it. How much is it going to cost us and what can we afford to do.”
Thorossian estimates the cost per three-week semester at $175. Administrators looked at other districts and found the cost for the same class went up to $195. For two three-week semester classes it went up as high as $435.
The district is searching for community partner organizations to help with the costs and offer scholarships for those who cannot afford the classes.
In past meetings where the issue of summer school was discussed board member Joylene Wagner voiced her concern for music programs. Many students take summer school so they can have a band class, she said. At the meeting she appeared resigned that money has to be saved.
“I think it is important to [remember] that we are now going to be charging for classes that are free during the year,” said board member Nayiri Nahabedian but she acknowledged that the $50 million deficit looms over the budget.