CCAC takes over summer school
But many students with failing grades will spend the summer learning how to spell words like oxymoron, sweating it out in non-air conditioned classrooms and wishing they were outside.
And students aren't the only ones who look forward to three months of vacation.
Teachers and administrators often have summer plans, which is one reason that most high schools in Allegheny County have farmed out their summer school programs to the Community College of Allegheny County.
The northern suburbs, working with CCAC's North campus, were the proving grounds for the arrangement. School districts in the southern suburbs, along with CCAC's South and Airport West campuses, followed suit in the late 1970s.
'It started at North in the mid-1970s and was so successful that the other campuses and school districts adopted the same model,' said Leslie Bartok, CCAC's dean of continuing education.
Bartok said cuts at that time in state support for summer school programs - combined with the complexities of contracting teachers and administrators to work the summer months - led public school administrators to CCAC.
'It got to be a very expensive program for them because of their teacher contracts and the loss of state funding,' she said.
'They approached the community college and said, 'We have this problem, is there some way we could work together to solve it?''
CCAC draws summer school teachers from the school districts, the substitute teacher lists and from its own campuses.
Summer school classes start in late June. Exact starting dates vary according to when classes end and when students learn of their failing grades in each district.
CCAC's four campuses enrolled 3,789 students for summer school last year, with 584 through the south campus.
Patricia Krebs, executive director of the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges, said about five of the state's 14 community colleges provide summer school programs to local school districts.
'Not all community colleges have gotten involved, but apparently it's considered by some community colleges and school districts to be a win-win situation,' she said.
The college's South and Airport West campuses set up shop in school buildings - West Mifflin Area Middle School, Seton-LaSalle High School in Mt. Lebanon and the Parkway West Area Vocational-Technical School in Robinson Township, as well as the community college's Bethel Park Center.
The sites change from year to year. Some buildings become unavailable due to summer construction projects, and enrollment is not limited to students from districts that host the program.
M.J. Mandler of CCAC's Airport West Center said the arrangement benefits the school districts and the community college.
'It's good public relations for us, it's good exposure for the students to a college and I think it performs a community service,' she said. 'It fills a need.'
Jen Engel, director of lifelong learning at CCAC's South campus in West Mifflin, said the community college works closely with the school districts to offer classes their students need.
'It just works out nicely because of their experience with it,' West Mifflin Assistant Superintendent Pat Serrapere said.
He said the loss of state funding for summer school in the 1970s and the difficulty of getting district teachers and administrators to commit to working the summer shifts led to the arrangement with CCAC.
'It just seemed more efficient to get a contractor, and they've done a good job,' Serrapere said.
'It accomplishes what it's supposed to accomplish, and it's well done.'
A few districts - such as Mt. Lebanon and Steel Valley - do run their own summer schools.
Steel Valley switched from CCAC summer school to its own in 1992 and offers remedial math, English, physical education and sometimes science and social studies.
'When CCAC did it, if they didn't have enough students registered the class was canceled,' said Bernadette Vandriak of the Steel Valley School District. 'If we don't have enough students we still try to offer the course, even if we're losing money.
'I think it's worked out better for the students.'
She said the classes cost $150 for high school courses and $80 for middle school classes.
CCAC summer school costs $120 for 60-hour remedial classes. Students are responsible for the cost.
In addition to the remedial classes, Steel Valley offers a summer program called Kids College. The classes are for enrichment rather than remediation, which means students take them by choice.
Assistant Superintendent Janice Glunk said the remedial classes attract about 175 middle and high school students, while the enrichment program usually attracts about 75 children between the ages of 6 and 14.
'In the past it has been very popular,' Glunk said of the program, which offers a variety of courses such as art programs, 'things kids wouldn't ordinarily get during the school year.'
Summer enrichment programs for grade and middle school students are offers by many school districts.
Mt. Lebanon spokeswoman Cecile Bowman said the district's summer school program offers a wide range of enrichment classes at the high school level, in addition to the remedial ones.
She said some good students are so busy during the school year with advanced placement classes that they come in the summer to make up another class like health.
CCAC also offers enrichment classes in the summer, at a cost of $210 for 120 hours of instruction.
'We do have many students that are in the classes because they want to get ahead for the following year' said Engel of the South campus.
But, she added, most kids in class during summertime are there because they have to be. 'Definitely more use it for remediation,' she said.
Brandon Keat can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org'>'>HREF='mailto:email@example.com'> firstname.lastname@example.org or (412) 380-8546.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins’ Rutherford hopes to raise Cup again
- Pirates find a bridge at end of baseball world in Holdzkom
- Former Titans kicker Bironas killed in accident
- Who speaks for our hills? These regional assets are taking a beating
- Gas industry remedies ‘brain drain’ in Western Pennsylvania
- Hill District leaders irked as Penguins submit former Civic Arena site plan to city
- More companies embrace exchanges to curb health care costs
- 9 days into search, no contact with state trooper slaying suspect
- Hospitals turn to technology to tear down language barriers with patients
- Former drug dealer, addict give away groceries as part of New Kensington church’s outreach
- 121 tourists stranded on schooner near Statue of Liberty