Poplar Bluff makes major cuts to summer school program

By Tyler Profilet - bio | email

POPLAR BLUFF, MO (KFVS) - About 40 percent, or nearly 2000, students enrolled in Poplar Bluff public schools take summer school courses.

But severe budget cuts will now make this summer's classes available to only 500 students.

A letter addressed to parents this week from the Poplar Bluff School District says summer school will be limited only to those students who need additional academic assistance to go on to the next grade or to be successful next school year.

The school district says the cuts are disappointing, but necessary.

Budget cuts to Poplar Bluff's summer school program affects thousands in the district.

From the teachers that rely on the summer session for additional income, the students for learning, to the parents who will now have to find daycare for their kids, the cuts are painful.

"Salaries alone were $500,000 within the district," said Assistant Superintendent Sarah Long.  "We just looked at what the budgetary process is with the governor and what's happening with education and feel like we have to down scale that a little bit."

Susie Rahlmann has taught summer school for eight years, and she fears the worst is yet to come.

"There are students who are in desperate need of the summer school to help them pass to the next grade," she said.  "My concern would be that there would be no summer school at all in the upcoming years."

Along with cutting the program to only 500 students, the district will also no longer provide transportation to and from school and will cut the staff to only 20 teachers, only a fourth of the number who taught last year.

Rahlmann says less students in summer school leads to regression.

"Students will regress," she said. "They're off. They don't have the practice, they don't do the skills over the summer that they would during summer school. We're really keeping our fingers crossed that we don't see a decline in their reading level. We just hope everything will stay the same."

"We spend between one to two weeks looking back, so that tells you what summer school has done and now we have a more rigorous curriculum than we had 10 years ago," added Long.

Long says she expects to have the list of summer school teachers within the next couple of days.

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