January 18, 2021
Local News

Slowing the 'Summer Slide'

Putnam County Schools considering change to summer school program

1 of 2

GRANVILLE — The “Summer Slide” is a well-documented decline of learning skills many students suffer from while they’re away from school during the summer months. Putnam County educators are looking for a way to help keep their students engaged.

Typically, students attend summer school in a series of consecutive half-days just before school resumes. Putnam County Primary School Principal Ronda Cross said although they’ve tried repeatedly to document the benefits of this format, they’ve been unable to show any conclusive results.

Cross, along with Putnam County Elementary School Principal Courtney Balestri and Putnam County Junior High Principal Mike Olson, proposed to the school board a restructuring of summer school. While many details remain to be worked out, the general idea is to hold summer school one half-day per week throughout the summer.

She said it would help to keep students more fully engaged while also making it easier to find teachers to participate and to work around scheduling problems. It was also proposed to hold the classes at one location, while using one bus to transport students to limit expenses.

The board approved a budget of $10,157 for the summer school program and encouraged their principals to continue developing their proposal.

Cross also discussed an idea for a mobile library stocked with donated books to travel throughout the county during the summer to help encourage children to continue to read during their vacation.

Funding concerns continue

The state now owes more than $783,000 in mandated funding to the Putnam County School District.

Superintendent Carl Carlson said he’s joined with a group of 179 other superintendents in a call for the state to fully fund schools and also said State Sen. Sue Rezin has given her support. Carlson said they will continue to publicize the information, so the public remains aware of the problems the two-year budget gridlock is causing.

While some schools are joining in a developing lawsuit against the state in regards to the lack of mandated funding, Carlson and the Putnam County School Board discussed the risks of joining the legal action because of the unknown costs.

Student projects

The six students whose science fair projects advanced to the regional competition shared their work with the board. Of those six, two will be advancing to the state competition which will be held at Northern Illinois University.

Six fourth-grade students presented their social studies projects with the board. The fourth-grade classes recently studied Putnam County history. Along with a visit to the Putnam County Ag Museum, the students visited with local judges who shared the local connection to President Abraham Lincoln.

The students were also visited by storyteller Brian “Fox” Ellis. His visits covered three days and were sponsored by the Putnam County Education Foundation. During one visit Ellis played an assistant to Lincoln as he helped the students understand the time the future president spent in Putnam County.

The fourth-graders also took part in a project at the museum which allowed them to create artifact labels after researching items of their choice.

“I’m incredibly proud of the students and thankful they were able to be part of such a meaningful project within our own county,” Balestri said.

In other news:

• The board tabled action on the Enterprise Zone resolution until they receive more information from the other taxing bodies. The decision on the resolution will need to be made by June.

• The board discussed with administrators the benefits of the possible addition of a third mini-bus. The current mini-buses are frequently used during many extra-curricular activities and are more cost efficient for smaller groups.

• Putnam County Education Association Co-President Janice Hoffman voiced concern over the student liaison taking part in closed session discussions with the board. She said the group is also concerned about the occasional use of Skype by the liaison during these sessions, citing security issues.

• The board said farewell to retiring board President Vicky Nauman and board member Mary Gilbert, presenting them with plaques and a cake.

“This isn’t enough to thank you for all the work you’ve done for the school board and the students of Putnam County,” Carlson said.

• The annual Trash to Treasure event, where PCES students display projects made from recycled items, will be held in the PCES gymnasium from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. on May 8.