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District gets grant for remedial programs

by Merrie Leininger

When was the last time you saw your kids sit down and do their homework right after school?

It’s a rare sight in many Valley homes, which is why parents appreciate homework clubs so much.

Most elementary schools keep their doors open after school for students who need more help than their parents can give them with their homework, or for kids who just like getting the work done right away, and with help close at hand.

Like most Douglas County elementary schools, eight teachers at Jacks Valley Elementary School have been holding an after school homework club in the library for two years.

Sue Worthen, a reading specialist at the school, helped organize the club.

“Having homework is a district policy, so anything we can do to help the children succeed and be better prepared to meet the standards, the better,” she said.

Parents whose schedules don’t allow them to supervise homework every night also appreciate the program.

Savoy McIntosh, 9, Tamra McIntosh, 10, and their brother, Bodhi Swanson, 7, come to the club because their parents work at night, Savoy said.

“I wanted to come and my parents wanted me to come because they go to work at night,” Savoy said. “Spelling is a lot harder to do at home than here because the teachers come right over when you ask them.”

Her brother said he had finished his homework already, a change from before the days of the homework club.

“A lot of days I’d been forgetting my homework, and now I get it done constantly. I like the homework club,” he said.

Jessica Fitch, 7, a 2nd grader, just recently joined the club to get help with reading.

“My mom signed me up so I could get help with reading and so teachers could help me with my homework,” Jessica said.

Her mother, Gina Fitch, who also has her hands full with Jessica’s brother, who is autistic, said the homework club is a big help.

“She really enjoys it. At first she didn’t want to go, but the first day she went, she liked it. And I know her homework is done and I know it is right, so it really helps,” Fitch said.

All schools have task forces that focus on subjects they feel their students need. For instance, Minden Elementary School has a computer camp in which students get extra help in phonics and Zephyr Cove Elementary School teachers wrote a grant to provide a summer school program for homeless students.

n Mandatory programs. In addition to after school programs, all schools have before school and intersession programs to encourage students.

Now, with the help of a $115,000 state grant, the district will be setting up mandatory remediation reading and math programs for students at-risk of not meeting the graduation requirements that go into effect for the class of 2002.

Some of those programs will be a six-week Saturday school for high school students and a six-week summer school for students in 7th-12th grades.

Reading camps will also be offered, starting in November, to elementary students during their off-track time or during the summer.

“We would see those services more for the students very at risk of not meeting competencies,” said Superintendent Pendery Clark. “The reading camp in November will include students that are referred to the program or their teachers require it of them, and we’ll provide transportation. It will be the same with some of summer school programs. Kids who are most at risk of failure will be required to attend and will not pay any fee.”

Clark said individual schools will also continue to provide their own programs independent of district-wide required and funded programs.