Bakersfield City School District officials plan to bring summer school back in 2020 after a one-year hiatus, Superintendent Harry ‘Doc’ Ervin said Saturday during a community forum at Walter Stiern Middle School.
Ervin hinted the renewed program would be expanded beyond enrichment to include remedial courses, but added it would take a year to plan.
“At some point, we are going to come up with a better summer learning program, but it won’t be this summer,” Ervin said. “It’s not going to happen.”
Advocacy groups have criticized the district’s decision and questioned the legality of cancelling such programs written into the Local Control Accountability Plan, a blueprint for how the district spends funding created with community input.
Ervin questioned the motives of those groups.
“When people are mad, who is it? It’s an adult or some advocacy group looking for their next big thing,” Ervin said. “Let me tell you something — it’s not going to happen here.”
Members of the Kern Education Justice Collaborative, a coalition of advocacy groups that seek to ensure equity in education, have been critical of the district’s decision. District officials said they receive no state funding for summer school. However members of KEJC say the district receives funding for such programs through the Local Control Funding Formula and are given autonomy on how to spend that money.
Ervin disputed that there would be money in the budget.
“Don’t come into my house and tell me how to spend my budget,” Ervin said.
Advocates also criticized the district for not informing community members of the decision sooner and say parents are not happy with the decision. Ervin said, however, he spoke with parents from each school site this week, and many parents were understanding of the decision.
District officials cut summer school, citing increasing costs for school services and low enrollment. Students who would benefit from summer school most are not enrolling in the program, officials said.
“If we are going to close the achievement gap, 40 percent need to go to summer school,” Ervin said, adding that just 10 percent of students who need to be in summer school attend.
“We need to rethink a better model for summer school,” said Mark Luque, assistant superintendent of education services.
Ervin said his priority is the district’s budget. He is pushing for “fair and equitable funding” from the state, he said.
“Every time we make a decision, we have to make a decision that is good for the kids,” Ervin said.