Oregon’s largest school district rolled out plans Thursday for what it’s calling the “most robust” summer programming package in state history starting later this month.
Portland Public Schools’ $15 million program includes summer camps and childcare programs with room for more than 7,500 students. For high schoolers, the district is offering more than 500 job opportunities, as well as slots for the district’s “summer acceleration academy” program.
“There are opportunities for students of all ages from K-12,” said Cheryl Proctor, Deputy Superintendent of Instruction & School Communities for PPS, at a press conference Thursday morning. Proctor said those opportunities cover a range of needs for students, including “academic support, credit completion for high school students, enrichment activities, culturally-specific learning experiences and specialized supports for our students with disabilities.”
This summer’s offerings follow an initial year of programs that met with mixed reviews from parents and students and fell short of enrollment goals. District leaders say they’re better prepared this time around.
“We learned a lot last summer,” PPS Director of Learning Acceleration Dana Nerenberg said.
Nerenberg said the district started its planning, hiring and collaborating “much earlier,” including assembling a summer steering committee last December with stakeholders.
“Also, now that we’ve had our students in school this year, we have more information about their specific learning needs,” she said.
The district expects to serve about 5,000 students in its Summer Acceleration Academy, a four-week program for students in elementary and middle school focused on catching up students who fell behind during the pandemic. Nerenberg said 4,000 students have already enrolled.
Other academic programs include the Summer Scholars Completion program, in which the district hopes to offer up to 3,000 credits for high school students who may not be on track to graduate on time, Nerenberg said.
Along with academic programs offered directly through the district, PPS is also partnering with more than 50 organizations to provide free summer enrichment camps and childcare.
Dani Ledezma, PPS’ Senior Director of Racial Equity and Social Justice, said the district went through an extensive contracting and vetting process with those community partners.
Some partnered groups include Portland-based Village Resiliency which will offer programming to middle school students focused on social and emotional health. Other camps with other local organizations will focus on a range of topics including songwriting, theater and science.
Students enrolled in PPS’ Indian Education and Migrant Education programs will also have access to culturally-specific summer activities.
Hundreds of high school students will have the opportunity to earn cash and experience working for some of the summer programs including with local organizations like the Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization, also known as IRCO, and Self Enhancement, Inc., or SEI. District officials say many of those organizations have already started the hiring processes for those students.
Deputy Superintendent Proctor said much of the programming is funded by one-time funding, including pandemic relief dollars.
“We will look at every opportunity that we have in the future to continue to provide these types of opportunities for our students,” Proctor said.
Some of the programming will begin on June 21, with some rolling out later in the summer. PPS officials said parents can still sign their children up for many of the programs and camps via the PPS website.