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FCPS finds funding for second year of expanded summer school programs

Entrance of Fairfax County Public Schools' administrative headquarters
Fairfax County Public Schools’ administrative headquarters in Merrifield (file photo)

Fairfax County Public Schools has found savings to provide a second year of expanded summer learning programming.

The $12.5 million needed for the enhanced summer school will come from reserve staffing funds that went unused due to FCPS’ decreased student enrollment, according to the district.

“We realize that…access to summer programming is important for all of our students,” Mount Vernon District Representative Karen Corbett-Sanders said at a school board meeting on Thursday (March 10). “It is a game-changer.”

The funds will be officially approved at a future meeting as part of a third-quarter review of the fiscal year 2022 budget, which spans from July 1, 2021 to June 30 of this year.

Intended to offset learning losses attributed to the shift to virtual classes during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, FCPS expanded its summer school offerings last year to accommodate more than 35,000 students — 10 times the number served in a typical year.

However, staffing shortages for the Extended School Year program, which serves students with disabilities, forced FCPS to delay classes and left many families frustrated.

Corbett-Sanders suggested summer enrollment was adversely affected because of how FCPS handled the situation. She said FCPS expects there will be increased interest in this year’s offerings, which includes a return of the Extended School Year program for an anticipated 3,308 students in special education.

FCPS says special education teachers who participate in the ESY program will receive a flat rate of $68 per hour, with consulting and homebound teachers getting a compensation rate of $50 per hour.

The largest program will be Summer Olympians Aspire and Reach (SOAR), which is expected to have an estimated 13,400 students. The program teaches kindergarten through sixth-grade students math and literacy skills to prepare them for the upcoming school year.

Other planned programs include a credit recovery academy for high school students, an online campus with virtual classes, enrichment programs, Young Scholars, Bridge to Kindergarten for children who did not attend preschool, and a summer recovery academy for students with disabilities.

Overall, FCPS anticipates that more than 33,000 students will enroll in a summer learning program this year.

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