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Summer-school structure varies among districts

Patrick Varine
| Thursday, June 19, 2014, 3:24 p.m.

When it comes to student credit-recovery programs — more commonly referred to as “summer school” — area districts approach it in different ways.

Penn Hills School District officials have in recent years opted to run summer school classes with their own staff, at the high school.

For many years the district and others contracted the work to the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, which offered home-based classes.

This year, about 10 Penn Hills teachers will lead sessions starting in late June and early July, district online learning coordinator Brian Brown said.

“We'll have three math teachers, and two teachers each in several other content areas,” he said.

Last year, the Penn Hills Summer Academy had about 190 participants, Brown said, with a pass rate of 92 percent.

The district used the AIU to provide classes “several years ago.”

He said the district could provide the same services, at a lower cost, and with a higher pass rate, in-house.

“We use the same programs, but the big difference is that there's a teacher right there if (students) have questions,” he said.

Nearby, in the Woodland Hills School District, officials also are bringing their credit-recovery programs back in-house this summer, curriculum director Norman Catalano said.

“We're adapting it both as something the kids can do online as well as in the classroom,” he said.

“Fundamentally, we have the knowledge of what the kids need, and we focus on the four major areas of math, science, social studies and literature.”

Previously, Woodland Hills contracted summer-school programming through the AIU or the Community College of Allegheny County.

Gateway, Plum, Franklin Regional and the Allegheny Valley school districts all contract out for summer-school programs.

Fox Chapel, Norwin, Hempfield and Riverview in addition to Penn Hills have in-house programs.

Brown said his preference is to run the programs in-house.

“That's what we like about this, to be able to offer kids a teacher in the classroom, where they have to come on campus,” he said.

“If you have a math question, there are three math teachers on staff who are right there to answer questions and help.”

Patrick Varine is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7845 or

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