SCHENECTADY — The Schenectady City School District revealed plans Wednesday to dedicate $100,000 in unanticipated state funds toward its summer enrichment program and new security measures.
Superintendent Larry Spring said most of the money will go to bolster the enrichment program, which grew from 650 students in the summer 2017 to more than 1,000 this year.
District spokeswoman Karen Corona added that an immediate goal for the funding will be to enroll the roughly 400 students who were wait-listed for the program this summer.
Spring said teachers in the district have lauded the program for mitigating what is known as "the summer slide," where students regress academically from their peak performance the year before. Consequently, teachers end up dedicating time to remedial lessons when school starts again, rather than advancing the curriculum, as planned.
"All of the studies indicate that the wealthier a kid's family is, the less likely they are to experience the summer slide," Spring said on the way to new teacher orientation Wednesday.
Geared toward elementary students, the summer enrichment program runs throughout the workday, easing the burden on working parents. Spring said the city's summer camp programs, which normally end around midday, will be further integrated with the enrichment program next year, so parents will not have to make arrangements to leave work to pick up their children and bring them somewhere else for the rest of the workday.
Another immediate need for the district is security.
Spring said whatever funding does not go toward the enrichment program will be spent to bolster security in school buildings, depending on what a committee appointed to the task deems most necessary.
State Sen. James Tedisco, R-Glenville, was on hand to present Spring with a super-sized check to symbolize the funding from the Legislature. The funding was hashed out in the Senate conference after $26 billion was set aside in the state budget for education.
Spring and Tedisco cited the city school district's higher level of need, relative to suburban and rural schools, in the sprawling 49th District.
The Schenectady City School District would not disclose how much it plans to spend on the summer enrichment program next year. The program cost $982,000 in 2017, and $850,000 was budgeted for this summer.
Initially, 850 students were expected to participate in this summer's program, but the district expanded it to more than 1,000 because of high demand. The district did not provide an updated budget figure after the expansion was enacted.
Because of front-end costs to establish the program, including buying startup supplies, the per-student cost should be lower in subsequent years.
The program has primarily been funded by federal grants up to this point.
Because of the non-budget allocated source of the funding, known in the Legislature as "bullet funding," legislators have varying levels of flexibility year-to-year as to where the money can go and how it can be spent.
"They have a plan, and the state is not going to tell them what to do with it," Tedisco said of the school district.