Arlington, VA

Citing staffing challenges and future budget cuts, Arlington Public Schools is discontinuing its summer enrichment programs for elementary students this year.

While axing the summer programs — which offered advanced classes on computer programing, math and world geography — APS said it will continue providing make-up classes and resources for students who are falling behind. Outdoor Lab sessions will continue as well.

“We are focusing our resources and staffing to provide makeup and strengthening courses to students who need extra help and additional support,” said APS spokesman Frank Bellavia.

The decision is not sitting well with some parents.

“Arlington Public Schools [is gutting its] summer enrichment program with little advance notice leaving parents in the lurch,” one parent said in an email to ARLnow.

In a letter to families, below, Interim Superintendent Cintia Johnson said the Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation’s summer programs may pick up some of the slack created by the APS decision.

Dear APS Staff and Families,

As you begin to make plans for this summer, I am writing to share updates to the APS Summer School Program for 2020. This year, in order to make the best use of available staff and resources, and to serve the students of greatest need, we will no longer be able to offer elementary summer enrichment programs, including: Global Village Summit, Fun with Coding, Math Academy and Summer Laureate. Outdoor Lab sessions will continue for elementary and middle school students.

We came to this decision based on increased challenges in staffing summer school strengthening, as well as anticipated budget reductions for the 2020-21 school year. While this was not an easy decision, these changes allow us to sustain our high-quality summer strengthening program and provide excellent teachers and staff to serve students with the greatest need.

We are working closely with the Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) to identify similar offerings and will communicate comparable camp providers through a follow-up School Talk message in early February, prior to the DPR summer camp registration. Arlington County offers fee reductions for eligible students, making these options comparable in price to APS offerings. Please note:

  • DPR summer camp registration begins on February 12 at 7 a.m. Lots of fun and enriching experiences for your student, with reduce fees as needed.
  • Don’t wait to sign up for a camp until you hear if your student is referred to APS summer school.  Spots fill quickly.  Students who are referred to APS Summer School and must cancel a camp in conflict with APS Summer School can notify DPR by Monday, March 16 to get a full refund. All other cancelations follow DPR Cancelation Policy.

The APS Summer Strengthening Program, which runs July 6-31, will continue to be offered for elementary students who meet specific eligibility requirements established by the Department of Teaching and Learning. Enrollment is by teacher and principal recommendation only for students who are at least one grade-level below in reading and/or math. Eligible students will be notified during Parent-Teacher conferences on March 5-6. A letter will also be mailed to families indicating student eligibility.

Lastly, the make-up and strengthening fee for all programs, PreK-12, will be $150. Students who currently receive free or reduced-price meals will continue to pay $56 for summer classes, and students who receive Extended School Year services, may attend free of charge. The 2020 Secondary Enrichment fees and New Work for Credit fees will remain the same as in 2019.

These changes were presented by APS staff and approved by the School Board at the December 19 meeting. The full presentation is available online on BoardDocs.

I hope that this notice helps you plan accordingly. I also encourage you to participate in the APS Summer Activities Fair on Friday, February 7. This is a great way to learn about the many academic and arts programs, sports camps and other offerings available for the summer. Additional resources are provided below. Please contact the Summer School Office by phone at 703-228-7645 or by email at  [email protected], if you need additional assistance.

Sincerely,

Cintia Johnson
Interim Superintendent

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