LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- The school year is almost over for Clark County School District students, but the Summer Acceleration Program, a new offering funded by the American Rescue Plan, is right around the corner.
The program starts in just two weeks, and will run from June 1 to June 30.
While our efforts to reach the district for more details proved unsuccessful, FOX5 spoke with a high school principal who provided a much clearer idea for what families can expect district-wide.
The Summer Acceleration Program, a voluntary program for staff and students, will be offered in person and in full schooldays five days a week, according to Dr. John Anzalone, principal at Sierra Vista High School. Anzalone is among the many principals waiting for approval on his individual school's plans for the summer learning program.
For the first time ever, Anzalone said, students will have the opportunity to do credit retrieval during summer school, where they can make up a class they previously failed, at no cost to the family.
"Typically summer school is about $150 for a half a credit. It's gone up over the years," said Anzalone. "To have the opportunity to take an original credit for free, it's the gift of a lifetime, it really is."
The enhanced summer offering will also allow students to take and complete a future class, so that they may cross that credit off their list for next year.
"We have ten summer school sites, that students, for the first time probably ever, can earn brand new credit at one of those sites for free, which is incredible, because typically, summer school is pretty pricey," said Anzalone.
The program is meant to catch kids up, primarily academically; designed for families like Erik Sarvela's, whose seventh grader didn't take well to distance learning.
"She's taking three classes that she failed this year, because she needs to take them or she'll take seventh grade all over again," said Sarvela.
Then after she masters that concept in summer school, she will be able to join students who are taking the extracurricular classes. Students' transcripts will have to qualify to access the extracurricular portion, said Anzalone, who emphasized that the academics will come first.
Still, he said, "We're gonna try to make it enjoyable for the kids." His high school's staff hope to offer classes like drone flying, healthy exercise, theatre camp, and video games.
One Las Vegas mom, Brandi Rollins, said her daughter, an eighth grader at Cram Middle School, wants to take band over the summer since in-person band was taken away from her during the pandemic. But she said she will also likely take any summer class she can get.
"She's like, 'No but this is gonna be like normal,' and I'm like 'Yeah but that's taking your summer away.' And she's like, 'Yeah but this is gonna be normal, I get to go see people," said Rollins. "She wants to go, because she wants some kind of normalcy back."
Rollins said her daughter is hoping to use the time, not only as an artistic outlet, but to connect with her peers after the year of isolation.
"She was really looking forward to 8th grade accelerated band and all the opportunities, but they got taken away," said Rollins. "She would literally be going there to brush up on her musical instrument and make friends."
But not all families are interested. While enrollment is still ongoing in many schools, some parents argue that their children deserve to have a break from CCSD. On March 29, FOX5 conducted an informal social media survey on Facebook and Twitter, and of the several hundred CCSD parents who responded, roughly 40% said they would not sign their child up for free, enhanced summer school.
Anzalone said he currently has enough teachers who've raised their hands to participate. They will be paid at their contractual rate, unlike years past. But Anzalone said he is hoping for more student interest.
"I think we know that our graduation rates could be a little less than normal this year, but so to help our kids get across that stage, even if they don't get to cross the stage in June, hopefully they'll be able to cross the stage in July because of this program," said Anzalone.
Students can also use the summer program to attain a new credit so they don't have to take the course in the next school year, said Anzalone.
Many families have had questions about scheduling, since some are planning trips during that time. Anzalone said students partaking in extracurricular activities can come and go from the program as they please. Students who are making up classes they previously failed can only opt out of attending once they've mastered the concept, and students taking a new course will need to attend each and every day, he said.