Atlanta Public Schools students gather in a third-grade computer coding class during the 2018 summer school program. Bob Andres /
Photo: Bob Andres/
Photo: Bob Andres/

APS summer school enrollment falls short of projections

The first year of Atlanta Public Schools redesigned summer school failed to live up to enrollment projections, prompting the district to cut more than 70 positions.

The school district this summer launched a new summer program, called “Power Up,” that emphasized project-based learning and enrichment activities. Officials said the revamped program was intended to replace previous summer school offerings that felt punitive to students and focused too much on academic remediation. 

A district review of the new program, obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution through a public records request, found that this summer’s attendance fell short of enrollment projections. Daily attendance at school sites averaged 3,485 students, and about 1,927 students participated in an online high school credit recovery program. 

District officials had set a goal of doubling attendance from last year, when roughly 4,000 students attended APS summer school programs. The district has said that prior year attendance is not a perfect comparison because the program has been overhauled. 

This summer’s program had the capacity to serve twice the number of students who showed up, the APS report stated. That led to the district eliminating about 9 percent of the staff it had hired to run the program, or 76.5 teachers and other positions. 

The reduction saved the district money. It had originally planned to spend nearly $2.4 million in federal money on summer programs, but cut the budget by $566,011. 

The district’s report said it will work to boost attendance for next summer through earlier planning, marketing and enrollment. 

“With the program design in place and many of the kinks worked out, the district will be in a much better position to start planning for the summer of 2019 much earlier, allowing schools to enroll students in the early spring before families make other commitments,” the report stated.

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