The Recorder

GASD: Summer school pilot program proves effective

John Purcell/Recorder staff From left, Amsterdam High School Assistant Principal Al Mattice talks Wednesday to the Greater Amsterdam Board of Education about results of a pilot program at the school while AHS Assistant Principal Christine Pietro listens to him.

John Purcell/Recorder staff
From left, Amsterdam High School Assistant Principal Al Mattice talks Wednesday to the Greater Amsterdam Board of Education about results of a pilot program at the school while AHS Assistant Principal Christine Pietro listens to him.

By JOHN PURCELL

Recorder News Staff

Breaking from the typical regional summer school arrangement, Greater Amsterdam School District placed some seniors in a smaller scale locally operated summer program, which yielded positive results.

Superintendent of Schools Vicma “Vicky” Ramos decided to run a pilot program at Amsterdam High School over the summer offering select courses — English 11, English 12 and U.S. history and government — for 11th and 12th grade students. The select in-house offerings allowed students to attend summer school locally, but other grade levels and courses were offered at the regional summer school operated through Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery BOCES. Gloversville High School served as the regional host location over the summer.

Ramos told the Greater Amsterdam Board of Education during its Wednesday meeting the pilot program was “very successful,” so district officials “really need to start thinking what’s best” for its students.

“It does cost us more money,” Ramos said, “but there are times when it’s important that we take those dollars and push them forward.”

GASD Business Manager Kim Brumley roughly estimated the smaller scale summer school pilot program cost around $25,000, but the district tapped federals funds received for the program.

AHS Assistant Principal Christine Pietro said Amsterdam and Gloversville have the largest student enrollment within HFM BOCES, so it’s rotated between these schools. Following the current school year, Amsterdam would be the host under the agreement.

Ramos said her decision to run the in-house summer school was not well received by those involved with the regional summer school.

“I was not very popular when I pulled my 12th-graders to come here, because it effected what they had anticipated that they were going to spend,” Ramos said. “I did it because I thought it was the right thing to do for our kids.”

There was substantial difference with the course completion rate between the regional summer school versus Amsterdam’s pilot program. Approximately 57 percent of courses Amsterdam students took at the regional school were completed while 92 percent of courses were completed at the pilot program.

The primary reason students did not complete a course was receiving too many absences, according to data GASD provided.

When Amsterdam students completed a course at the regional school, approximately 59 percent of freshmen passed, 67 percent of sophomores passed, 85 percent of juniors passed and all seniors passed.

AHS Assistant Principal Al Mattice said 18 of the 19 Amsterdam students passed every course they took through the local pilot program. One out of the two Adirondack Academy students enrolled in Amsterdam’s program received credit for both English 11 and U.S. History.

School board member Jackie Marciniak said the difference between the two programs was “alarming.”

HFM BOCES summer school is available to children from 10 school districts within the region, with around 500 students enrolled in the this year’s regional summer school, according to Pietro.

She said there were 93 students from Amsterdam enrolled in this year’s regional summer school, which is roughly 20 percent of the overall students enrolled. This total across grade levels included 23 freshmen, 49 sophomores, 18 juniors and three seniors.

The three seniors who attended the regional summer school took courses not offered at Amsterdam’s summer school program.

District officials said AHS student enrollment is typically higher when summer school is locally held.

“We advocated strongly to keep it in Amsterdam, but the BOCES component said it’s part of their agreement that they flip flop it every year,” Ramos said. “We really wanted to keep it here, but that’s been part of that component summer school agreement.”

Pietro said typically there is a similar amount of freshmen and sophomore students enrolled in summer school, so she was surprised there were more than double the amount of sophomores enrolled.

“The one stat that surprised me somewhat … the amount of tenth graders versus ninth-graders,” Pietro said. “I dug into that a little bit deeper and the ninth grade guidance counselor from last year said it was due to the fact that it was in Gloversville. A lot of parents of ninth graders do not want their kids getting on the bus at 6:30 a.m. at Lynch Middle School and going to Gloversville.”

Ramos said there are less Gloversville students enrolled when the regional summer school is held in Amsterdam.