City to step in on Palo Alto summer school

Camps will expand in 2014 after school district retreats on summer enrichment

Palo Alto recreation officials say they're looking to expand city youth programs next summer to help compensate for the expected loss of non-academic summer school classes in Palo Alto.

The city offer comes as school district officials plan to scale back next summer's "enrichment" classes because of state legislation barring California school districts from charging summer-school fees. In the past, the district has supported its summer enrichment programs through fees and scholarships while offering academic "credit recovery" classes at no cost.

Rob de Geus, assistant director of Palo Alto's Community Services Department, said the city will expand an array of summer programs in sports, nature, art and recreation to accommodate families who otherwise might have signed their kids up for summer school enrichment classes such as cooking or web design.

The city programs will be fee-based, but low-income residents may qualify for 25 percent to 50 percent off, depending on their income. Any student enrolled in the Palo Alto Unified School District, including the 600 East Palo Alto students enrolled in the Tinsley Voluntary Transfer Program, are considered Palo Alto residents, he said.

"We're still talking with the school district about additional rooms at schools across the community," de Geus said. "Having additional space is definitely important for the city if we're going to increase capacity in our programs."

This past summer the city logged 5,648 enrollments in its summer camps and aquatics programs. It also hired 250 Palo Alto teens as camp counselors or junior counselors.

DeGeus said the city offered 145 "unique camps an programs that families can choose from," mentioning classes like advanced animation for kids, sports camps and something called robot and machine sculpture.

"I think we're going to be able to help," he said. "We'll have to see how this year goes and talk with families and if there remains a gap we'll rethink and build even more capacity for the following year."

Palo Alto Summer School Coordinator and Adult School Principal Kara Rosenberg said this week that the school district would reduce its enrollment next summer to focus its "resources to assist the students who are most in need of an academic program."

Next year's elementary summer school enrollment is pegged for 400, down from this year's 662. At the middle-school level, enrollment is projected for 150, down from 463. High school programming, which focuses on credit make-ups, summer "bridge" classes for at-risk students and the required, semester-long Living Skills class, will be similar to this year at 1,037 students.

The ban on summer-school fees follows a 2010 lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union that challenged fees for summer school, sports uniforms, field trips and other education-related items, saying they "blatantly violate the free school guarantee by requiring students to pay fees and purchase assigned materials for credit courses."

A California law passed last year ended that litigation. The new law, AB 1575 requires the California Department of Education, beginning in 2014-15, to provide guidance to school districts every three years on items it can charge fees for. It was introduced by then-Assemblyman, now state Senator Ricardo Lara of Los Angeles County.

An April 24 "fiscal management advisory" from the California Department of Education warned against "a tuition fee or charge as a condition of enrollment in any class or course of instruction, including a fee for attendance in a summer or vacation school, a registration fee, a fee for a catalog of courses, a fee for an examination in a subject, a late registration or program change fee, a fee for the issuance of a diploma or certificate or a charge for lodging."

The California Supreme Court said in 1984, "Access to public education is a right enjoyed by all – not a commodity for sale. Educational opportunities must be provided to all students without regard to their families' ability or willingness to pay."


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Posted by Gunn parent
a resident of Ventura
on Oct 24, 2013 at 6:50 am

Very pleased to hear that the City of Palo Alto is offering to increase youth summer programs in light of PAUSD's program cuts.
Will help local families and provide needed summer jobs!

Like this comment
Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 24, 2013 at 7:50 am

This makes sense. The same program wearing a different hat.

Hopefully it will work well.

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Posted by bad law
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 24, 2013 at 7:52 am

" low-income residents may qualify for 25 percent to 50 percent off"
Still loses complete scholarships as were offered by PAUSD.
Can someone please tell me again who this law was supposed to help?

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Posted by EB
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 24, 2013 at 8:27 am

Excellent solution. Well done Rob de Geus. By having these classes offered through the city there will be an open and fair enrollment process as well. Everyone wins.

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Posted by jb
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 24, 2013 at 9:00 am

Agree. this is a good solution. We've enjoyed the Enjoy! selections over the years, but the choices have thinned out for the pre-teen/ middle school age. Since that seems to be the group most impacted by the school cutback, I look forward to more programs for the 11-14 year old range.

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Posted by Robert Burnes
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 24, 2013 at 2:27 pm

I am very happy for our young people if this program comes about. For many years, as a teacher in the district, I was part of the after school and summer recreational activities. Many of the memories. I currently live with, involve the my experiences with young people and they are priceless. LET IT Happen!!

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Posted by Keep drinking the Kool-Aid
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 24, 2013 at 3:15 pm

That's great that the city is planning to offer classes, but in no way does it improve services to PAUSD students in need of summer school, nor does it relieve Kevin Skelly of his duty to rectify this mismanagement. Losing summer school classes is not a result of the ACLU or anonymous posters, neither has that much power. We are losing summer school classes because that is what senior leadership has decided. Kara Rosenberg does not make that decision without first speaking to Skelly. Charles Young doesn't make that decision. How could he?

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Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 24, 2013 at 3:38 pm

@ Keep drinking the Kool-Aid -Yes, we are losing summer classes "because that is what senior leadership has decided" and they have decided that because they must provide any summer classes they offer for FREE. As a tax payer, I would be awfully upset if PAUSD decided to provide free classes over the summer for anyone that did not need the support to learn to read, learn to do math or graduate from high school.

The only reason they will offer any classes is that it is more cost effective to support kids that need real remediation over the summer and not just during the school year (elementary level) and at the high school level, we don't want our graduation rates to go down, so they will offer classes that are required for graduation to kids who have not passed them. It is nice, though I don't believe necessary, to provide "bridge classes" to students that want to bump up a lane in math between middle and high school.

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Posted by Yet Another Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 24, 2013 at 5:44 pm

Should PAUSD schools during the school year only be free for those who need the support to learn to read, learn to do math or graduate from high school?

Summer school allows kids to catch up, get ahead, explore new areas, etc. at a less frantic pace.

The only difference between public education over the summer and public education during fall, winter, and spring is tradition, and the views and habits that have grown from it.

We are now in a world quite different from that of the one that required students to work farms over the summer!

It's time for public education to catch up to us.

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Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 24, 2013 at 7:12 pm

@ Yet Another Resident - I totally agree that summer is a great time to "catch up, get ahead, explore new areas" but since PAUSD can no longer charge for classes, what has to happen is only those who need to "catch up" will get free summer school. The "get ahead and explore new areas" will only be available to families that can afford to PAY for summer school.

BTW - A relatively low-cost way to take a summer class is at Foothill if you are a high school student and can get the appropriate sign-offs.

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Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 24, 2013 at 7:38 pm

Thanks to the city Rec Dept for stepping in to back fill some of summer school programs that PAUSD dropped despite Skelly's claims otherwise last spring. But why does the city so often have to cover for services that should be supplied by our district. Didn't PAUSD announce a 5 million surplus recently? Doesn't the city already pay for crossing guards, shuttle buses serving students, Project Safety Net and other youth services that should at least be shared by the district?

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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 24, 2013 at 8:18 pm

Paly Parent - do you really want the district to spend money on a small number of kids who are taking enrichment classes over the summer? I would love it if you could find any other district in California who offers these kinds of classes for free. Just doesn't happen. The remedial classes for kids who have failed have been free. It's just the classes that don't count for anything that are not. If a kid wants to get ahead in their math lane, I'm not sure the district should be paying for that. Thank goodness the city is increasing their summer offerings for those parents who need to have their child engaged during the summer. Child care is not free, however.

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Posted by JLS parent
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 24, 2013 at 8:34 pm

Summer camp is no substitute for summer school enrichment classes such as fantasy literature,creative writing or math. Those offerings will not be found in the Enjoy catalog. I wish the administration had surveyed parents and educators before submitting this plan to the board.It's not just remedial students who benefit from summer school. The cost savings for cutting the enrichment programs is $120K. Is the board really willing to shut down enrichment summer school for such a small sum?

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Posted by 99%ers Rock
a resident of another community
on Oct 25, 2013 at 5:21 pm

Eat your heart out 1%. The country club days for Palo Alto are coming to an end. Don't expect any exceptions at the PUBLIC SCHOOLS of PAUSD. You may be able to intimidate most of the principals and VPs, but the ACLU will not be moved by your $$$$, your tech jobs or affiliation with Stanford.

Occupy ALL Streets!

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Posted by Mary
a resident of another community
on Oct 25, 2013 at 5:36 pm

I "heart" PAUSD!!! NOT!

PAUSD has an ugly reputation for doing illegal things and stop only when they are caught. For example, the bullying of handicapped kids only stopped when the parents filed a complaint with OCR. (The principal at that school got a promotion and raises to a job at 25 Churchill). The charging for mandated field trips which was stopped by the good old ACLU. As a card carrying member of the ACLU, I salute their work. About 15 years ago a black teacher at Gunn had to file a complaint with OCR and EEOC to stop the discrimination against her.

Nothing really horrible in PAUSD changes until it is brought to the light and legal action is taken. Wouldn't it save a lot of $$$$$ and pain if PAUSD did the RIGHT, legal thing to begin with?

PAUSD once was called the "lighthouse" district. But it has become the OUTHOUSE district.

What a shame?

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Posted by straight record
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 26, 2013 at 12:44 pm

Remedial classes were not offered for free until the past 2 years (when the spectre of the ACLU's suit that questioned even small fees forced PAUSD to finally stop charging for summer school). According to District summer school brochures, only students that qualified for free or reduced lunch had their summer school fees waived.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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