New summer school program will save Northridge money

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Northridge Schools are changing the way summer school is conducted and it has some residents in the community concerned.

It’s using an expanding initiative in the Miami Valley called the Freedom Schools Program.  It’s through Children’s Defense Fund and Dayton’s Learn to Earn through United Way of the Greater Dayton region.

The fact that it uses college students as teachers had one viewer reach out to us with concerns, so we looked into it.

Summer school is essential for some students.

“Research shows our kids especially low income and high poverty kids show a significant slide in their learning over the summer months,” said Superintendent David Jackson

Lately Northridge’s program has not been getting the best results with their summer school program so they are trying out a new initiative called Freedom School for their kindergarten through 3rd grade students this summer.

According to Superintendent David Jackson, its research based and focuses on reading, an important goal in Ohio.

The kids are not going to be seeing familiar faces leading these classrooms..instead this program is staffed by specifically trained college students. Bill Perry of the United Way noted that most of those students are local, though they received specialized training from the University of Tennessee.

Natalie “Why wouldn’t you use teachers here, teachers that you already have?”

“We have struggled with staffing summer programs. Last year we had a 3 week program and we ended up having to hire outside our district most of the staff for that program,” said Jackson.

He said after this pilot year they will be able to add more of their own staff to be site supervisors. He adds it’s a program that will not only boost student learning, but it’s also partially paid for by the Children’s Defense Fund.

Natalie: “Let’s talk money. Is this going to save the district money in the long run?”

David: “Absolutely. We are going to spend a little bit less money this year on our 6 week program for our students, an all day program for 6 weeks then we did last year for a three day program that was all day, every day.”

Jackson said they will have 50 students enrolled in the Freedom school this year.

He said other schools around the Miami Valley are taking part in similar programs. Perry stated there were four “Freedom schools” in the area last year. Six are teaching students this year, and the goal is to have 10 in 2016. He noted the success of one school in particular. Perry said, at the end of last summer’s session, the students at Grace United Methodist Church in Dayton tested an average of two grade levels higher for reading than their actual grade level.

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