GBCS officials roll out plans for ‘summer semester’

GRAND BLANC — In an effort to close the academic achievement gap brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Grand Blanc Community Schools will offer an expanded summer school program.

“We know that with COVID and the impact it’s had on student learning, this summer was going to be very important to us,” said Superintendent Clarence Garner.

The challenges of remote classes and disruptions to face-to-face learning have contributed to some students falling behind and struggling to meet the educational benchmarks.

State funding will pay for the 8-week “summer semester” for kindergarten through 8th-grade students, Garner said. High school students will have summer school opportunities through a separate program, he said.

The K-8 summer semester will begin June 21 and continue through Aug. 20, with a break during the week of July 4. Classes for the first four weeks will take place at West Middle School, the second half at East Middle School.

Students will receive breakfast at the beginning of each day, which starts at 9 a.m., and receive grab-and-go lunches at the end of the day, around noon.

Classes will be in session Monday through Friday.

The district also will provide transportation to and from school.

Teacher and program coordinator Duane Engleman said the summer semester will be longer and “more robust” that the traditional summer school program.

It will focus on both enrichment and remediation “to help close the achievement gap through research-based curriculum” in English/language arts, math, science and social studies.

“We know deficits have occurred and we’d like to address those,” said Ross Burdette, West Middle School assistant principal and program coordinator.

District officials expect about 800 students to sign up. Priority seating will be afforded to those students most in need of assistance.

There is no cost to families who participate. Enrollment was to begin this week.

Board of education member Curtis Jablonski commented that the expanded summer semester is a “great benchmark for the opportunity of a balanced calendar.”