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Wednesday, Oct 01, 2014

Pinellas schools’ Summer Bridge to reach more kids

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LARGO — Pinellas County will expand its summer school program to allow even more students to continue their studies, Superintendent Michael Grego said.

Beginning March 12, students may use the online Student Reservation System to sign up for the second installment of the free districtwide Summer Bridge program, which last year drew about 9,000 of 12,000 invited students in kindergarten through 12th grade, Grego said.

The six-week invitation-only program aims to prevent students from slipping during summer vacation, and it still will target struggling students who performed below grade level.

However, Grego said he expects to see more students enrolled this summer, with even more opportunities for one-on-one learning.

The school district will add four elementary school sites to last summer’s 27, in addition to the 15 middle schools and all 17 high schools. It also will expand the voluntary prekindergarten summer program for 4- and 5-year-olds from four elementary schools to 13. Students who could benefit from the courses will begin receiving invitations in mid-March, before the registration period begins.

Summer Bridge will be Monday through Thursday from June 17 to July 24. Elementary classes are planned for 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., middle school from 8 a.m. to noon and high school from 8 to 11 a.m.

Last summer, the classes focused on hands-on experiments to give the program a summer camp feel, Grego said. That atmosphere will remain, but the curriculum has been fine-tuned to focus more on individual students’ needs.

“We’re going to cluster students of varying abilities, and I see a lot of improvements in the curriculum area. It’s really neat,” Grego said. “I see a lot more enrichment coming from our middle and high school, with schools offering additional summer programs to their students in addition to things like band camps, so it’s not just about remediation. The schools are really pushing themselves and their students.”

Last year’s Summer Bridge program cost about $3.1 million. And though the cost of this year’s program won’t be known until enrollment ends, Grego anticipates it could be less because many materials purchased last year can be reused.

“We’re really well-prepared. Last year it was just this idea that we were trying to kick off when I was just getting here, but now we’re feeling a whole lot more comfortable with things because we’ve been through it before,” he said. “The second time around always irons out the kinks from the first.”

In addition to Summer Bridge, the school district will provide free driver education classes to students in public and private schools who have a learner’s permit. Students may sign up this month for the courses, which will be in two 10-day sessions, from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The first session will be June 9 to 24 and the second from June 25 to July 10. Each session is limited to 40 students, so those interested must register as soon as possible. The classes will be at Boca Ciega, Clearwater, Countryside, Dixie Hollins, Dunedin, East Lake, Lakewood, Northeast, Osceola, Pinellas Park and St. Petersburg high schools.

High school seniors preparing to enter college next school year also may receive help filling out the lengthy Free Application for Federal Student Aid paperwork. Students and parents will get one-on-one help from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Northeast High School in St. Petersburg or from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 22 at St. Petersburg College’s Gibbs Campus.

Participants can expect to get their FAFSA results in one week but must bring their W-2 and Federal income tax forms, records of any untaxed income from 2013, a driver’s license or state ID, Social Security card, and their spouse’s or parents’ Social Security numbers and birth dates.

Beginning March 12, elementary students may register for two new schools, Kings Highway in Clearwater and Gulf Beaches in St. Pete Beach. Students entering kindergarten through fifth grade may register for the technology magnets online from March 12 to 17. Families interested in learning more about the programs may attend a Discovery Night in the Pinellas County schools administration building, 301 Fourth St. S.W, Largo, at 6 p.m. March 11.

adawson@tampatrib.com

(727) 215-9851

Twitter: @adawsonTBO

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