Nearly 250 students attend Jump Start program

MARSHALL — Marshall Public School board members learned about the summer school program in a presentation from Gayle Chandler and Sue Strautz at the regular board meeting on Monday.

Licensed staff members taught nearly 250 students in the Jump Start program this past summer.

“This summer, we were lucky enough to be the co-coordinators for the summer school program Jump Start,” Chandler said. “One hundred and thirty-two students attended the first session of Jump Start and 116 students attended the second session. Some of those do overlap, so we didn’t want to give you one big number.”

Strautz pointed out that not every child is able to attend summer school. The students become eligible for Jump Start through teacher referrals. The teachers use specific data — NWEA scores, AIMS Web scores and passing scores on math and reading standards — to make a determination.

“They a student doesn’t pass those standards, they probably won’t be offered the opportunity to go to summer school,” she said.

Arriving at 8 a.m., student were offered a free breakfast. Classes started around 8:30 a.m. After a free lunch about 11:30 a.m., student left for the day.

“School was Monday through Thursday,” Strautz said. “We served students going into first-grade through eighth-grade. Students worked on reading, math and social skills.”

Strautz added that transportation was provided to students living within the city limits of Marshall. Those living outside of Marshall had to provide their own transportation, she said.

In response to a board member question, Strautz said that the summer school program had to be taught by licensed staff members.

“We couldn’t have summer school without licensed teachers,” she said. “There aren’t many who want to teach in the summer, so we’re very, very thankful for those that do.”

The presenters said the parent/student liaisons were also an integral part of the summer school program.

“We couldn’t do it without them,” Strautz said. “They follow-up on our students who were recommended for summer school. They contact the families and made sure the forms were signed. We don’t have a percentage, but I’d say they helped with 90 percent of our students.”

The liaisons — Tina Quinones, Jose Hernandez, Hsa Mu and Fartun Ali — came in and built relationships with students during breakfast and contributed in other ways as well.

“They helped tremendously with attendance,” Strautz said. “Tina and Jose, they would go and get the kids. If they weren’t there, they’d go looking for them. They’d put them in their car and bring them. It was awesome.”

Chandler said Jump Start was beneficial for students academically as well as socially and behaviorally.

“There’s a large number of students who strive on structure and in that way, it’s an extension of our structured school day,” said Chandler, who splits her time between serving as a social worker and special education teacher.

“Gayle does most of the pre-summer school work,” said Strautz, who teaches kindergarten at Park Side Elementary. “She gets things to the bus company and gets all the forms in. I’m there most of the time during summer school. That’s my deal.”

Strautz said Jump Start is educational, but that it’s in a more relaxed atmosphere.

“It’s a great program,” she said. “We thank you for letting us do this — helping these kids out. Those children, especially the middle school kids, want to be there.”

In response to a follow-up question about the possibility of expanding next year, Strautz said it would depend on whether or not more licensed staff got on board. There are additional students who do want to attend, she said.

“The only way we can expand is if we get more licensed teachers,” Strautz said. “It’s hard to get teachers to teach in the summer. Hopefully, the little salary boost they got this year will help. We’ll see.”

The lone action item, the certification of a preliminary levy for 2017 taxes payable in 2018 for the maximum amount, was approved by the board. Business Director Bruce Lamprecht said approving the maximum amount allows the board flexibility when changes occur.

“In previous years, we’ve typically recommended that we certify the maximum amount for this preliminary levy, so it provides us flexibility,” Lamprecht said. “Over the course of the month of September, there are a lot of changes that seem to take place with the levy. We’ve already received two changes from what the original amount was, so that’s just an indication that a couple more changes will probably take place before the end of September.”

Lamprecht said the numbers could fluctuate between now and the Truth in Taxation hearing in December.

“Our original levy amount percent decreases .36 percent,” he said. “The Minnesota Department of Education had made an error on one line item for all the districts in the state of Minnesota. It wasn’t a helpful one. They’ve since made that adjustment and we’re sitting at 1.94 percent increase. That’s very preliminary, so we’ll see how it eventually turns out.”