In a Kingston City School District Board of Education meeting last month, Superintendent Paul Padalino addressed expanded summer school offerings, which saw Kingston High School handle its own program for the first time ever.
“This was a very different summer school than what we usually have done,” Padalino said during the meeting held on Wednesday, July 7. At the time the first three-week elementary session was just three days old. Held at George Washington Elementary School, that session ended on Friday, July 23. A second three-week program started at Chambers Elementary on Monday, July 26 and runs through Friday, August 13.
Speaking about summer school last week, Padalino said the district learned a lot and looks forward to using federal recovery aid through 2024 to bolster its expanded programs at least through 2024 as a way of addressing learning loss during the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the elementary level kids learned about math and reading, and also found time for fun projects like making books out of recycled lunch bags. Padalino said it’s been a great success compared to past years, but it wasn’t without its disappointments.
“We had about 220 students enroll (in the first elementary session), but we only really had about 130 show up,” he said, adding that the turnout was still close to twice what they usually get. “I think maybe some parents thought it was a great idea and then summer came and they changed their mind. And our second session stayed steady right around that 130 as well.”
Padalino added that the district offered a free aftercare program provided by the YMCA but didn’t have any takers.
The secondary level saw an even greater turnout, with around 250 kids in each of the middle school sessions and roughly 400 for the high school program.
“So we reached almost 1000 kids over the summer, and we’re really excited about that,” Padalino said. “And I thought it would be the opposite, that the older kids would stay home and parents would send the young kids, especially with the (aftercare) wraparound that we were paying for. It was free.”
The superintendent said the summer school program at Kingston High has been a great success, especially as it’s the district’s first time going solo.
“We’ve always gone through BOCES,” Padalino said. “We didn’t sign on with both this year and we created our own because BOCES was going all remote and we didn’t want to do that.”
Padalino added that they likely had a large turnout for a variety of reasons.
“Mostly at the high school level you’re getting a lot of kids who are catching up, getting credit that they didn’t get, dealing with classes that they failed,” he said. “But I think also we added a lot of other things that we didn’t usually have.”
Padalino credited community partners with helping with social and emotional work and said students also took advantage of everything from a hands-on agricultural club to a drivers’ education course, which the district hasn’t offered before.
“It was kind of like a school year for them,” Padalino said. “They had electives that we peppered into their schedule. So they’d maybe take math first period, and then they’d go do African drumming with CCE (Center for Creative Education) second period. I think a lot of the extra stuff was the reason kids came. We probably had more kids in our summer school, the high school program than say Onteora has regularly.”
Padalino said that summer school has been popular enough this year that there was never any question about keeping it around for as long as possible.
“We’ve made a three-year commitment to this type of summer school here in Kingston,” Padalino said. “So we’re going to do it again.”