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College Community Schools to Suspend K-8 Summer Schools, Camps

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - College Community Schools announced Monday that it plans to suspend its K-8 Prairie Summer Camp for one year. The district attributes that decision to declining enrollment in its summer programs over the past 8 years, from 1,000 students in 2004 to 435 in 2013.

The district said it will use the one year suspension to review programming needs and options. It will form a committee to review summer programming needs. The committee will look at a variety of factors when considering programming needs for kids and options for the future.

The district says the suspension will not impact high school summer programming.

Superintendent John Speer says summer programs have come a long way in the last decade, and he thinks that's one reason why enrollments for his district's programs are down.

In fact, last summer, less than 10 percent of the students the district invited to summer programs for help with their grades, actually enrolled.

"I think when the program was instituted, there weren't many summer camp or summer school-type options, but now there are a lot of options for families. Kirkwood does a fantastic summer camp," Speer said.

College Community Schools' summer classes are usually geared toward students who need help in the classroom. Speer thinks there's an untapped audience of students who perform at average or above-average academic levels.

"I could very likely see our summer school program maybe having a TAG or a talented and gifted component as well. You know, we want to broaden the appeal."

Speer wants to take the best parts of what worked for their summer classes, and then expand them. He said that will likely mean an extra cost to the school district, but added that money is not the primary concern.

"I assume what we put out 14 months from now in the summer of 15 will be better, and probably cost more than what we do now to the district."

The district plans to form a committee made up of administrators, teachers, and parents, to assess what improvements can be made. Speer said he's going into that process with no pre-conceived notions about what those improvements might be.

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