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Summer school surge; some districts doubling, tripling enrollment

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TUCSON (KVOA) - Summer school enrollment has soared this year after a full year of pandemic schooling that was tough on both teachers and students.

Some districts have had more than double and triple the normal amount of students enrolled this summer.

The districts that News 4 Tucson spoke with all expanded their normal summer school programs to be able to handle the increased enrollment this time around.

While many students will be focused on improving their grades or getting ahead, the districts also want them to focus on building their relationships.

"Engaging and enriching way to acclimate students to their classmates, our school campuses and our school community in a way that is pretty exciting and just fun for kids," said Kevin Stoltzfus, Associate Superintendent Flowing Wells School District.

While grades remain high on the priority list for parents and teachers, district leaders say these summer school sessions also give them the opportunity to re-integrate their students with traditional schooling.

"We know that part of getting to the academics is just getting kids comfortable and feeling good about themselves as learners and excited about school," said Heidi Aranda, Senior Director of Curriculum and Professional Development of Tucson Unified School District.

Over 10,000 students in TUSD have enrolled in summer school, pre-pandemic that number on average was around 3,000.

Flowing Wells has 3,000 students in summer school out of their 5,000 student body. On average they would have between 1,200-1,400 enrolled.

Sunnyside said they have more than doubled their usual summer enrollment.

"One of the biggest changes we've seen is just the sense of normalcy for them to be able to come to school every day and to interact with their peers and their teachers just like they did before the pandemic," said Jose Gastelum, Chief of Student Services, SUSD.

Most summers, kids don't want to pick up a textbook. But this year, many students are lining up to get back to school in person.

"It wasn't difficult to recruit kids, as a matter of fact, it was a little unnerving because it's like oh we're getting a lot of kids," Aranda said. "We better make sure we have the right programming and staff etc. It's been hard keeping up with the enrollment."

These districts explain that an increased summer school also gives them an opportunity to ramp up operations before they begin a normal schedule next fall.

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Mark Mingura

Mark Mingura joined KVOA as a Multi Media Journalist in October 2019. Originally from the valley and with ties to Tucson, Mark is excited to get back to his home state and tell the stories of the Old Pueblo.

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