– A new limit to the type of summer school programs funded by
the state will mean big additional costs for San Benito High School
this year.
Hollister – A new limit to the type of summer school programs funded by the state will mean big additional costs for San Benito High School this year.

Due to California’s emphasis on the high school exit exam, most of the summer school money provided by the state will now go toward supplemental instruction for those students who have not passed the exam. As a result, San Benito High School will have to come up with an estimated $100,000 out of its own budget in order to provide summer school courses for other students.

The state funding used to go to all general remedial courses. But now the uncapped funding for students who have passed the exit exam but have failed a class during the school year has been eliminated.

“If we’re going to do a full-blown summer school like we have in the past, it’s going to cost,” said Cindy Cordova, director of education services.

Last year, between 1,700 and 1,800 students signed up for summer school classes at SBHS. In addition to taking remedial classes, some students take summer school to get ahead in their credits so they have more freedom during the academic year to take electives.

The state provides some money to supplement the high school’s extensive summer school program. But most of this funding goes to remedial courses.

While remedial classes used to be more broadly defined, they are now limited by the state to courses that prepare the students for the high school exit exam – that is, mathematics and language arts or English courses – and the funding will exclusively go to students who do not pass the exit exam or are at risk for not passing it.

Administrators at San Benito High School say this is ignoring other students who need to make up for failing grades. Some of the money for the make-up courses will come from state funding for the school’s core curriculum, but that amount is capped at providing for 5 percent of the student population.

Jim Koenig, the director of finance and operations for the high school, estimated that due to the change in state allocations, the school will have to pay an estimated $100,000 out of its general fund budget in order to keep the same number of classes.

“There are a lot of good reasons for making sure there are some sections beyond what is funded,” Koenig said. “One of the big ones is that we have a lot of kids with F’s who need to make them up. And we feel the need to provide.”

Cordova said that if the students are unable to take a summer class to make up their failed courses, many will be forced to take a seventh class or to not take an occupational program elective.

San Benito High School is not the only school facing budgeting problems for its summer school program. Many other California schools are grappling with this problem, and some have had to make drastic cuts or eliminate their summer school programs.

Cordova said SBHS is working hard to prevent that from happening.

“I think we’re all in agreement that we need to offer the students the opportunities to make up the F’s,” Cordova said. “We want to offer the same number of sections as we did last year, but we’re not sure how long we’re going to be able to do that.”

For now, SBHS administrators say they are moving forward with plans for summer school with approximately the same number of course offerings as last year, but keeping in mind the additional cost this will mean to the school. Koenig said they have not yet figured out what the money will come from, although he has started to examine possible areas.

“We have to find it in the budget somehow,” Cordova said. “In order to pay for it, it’s a give and take. It’s not like there’s a magical $100,000 that’s going to appear – there’s a cost of it that we’re very aware of.”

Alice Joy covers education for the Free Lance. You can reach her at (831)637-5566 ext. 336 or at [email protected].

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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