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Franklin summer camp set to expand

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A summer program that prepares children for kindergarten will be expanded this summer in Franklin.

Franklin schools will offer its kindergarten camp for a ninth summer at Northwood Elementary. About 50 students will be invited to the camp, based on results of the kindergarten assessment they’ll take when they register for school in April. Children will work on letter recognition, get used to the routines of the school day and learn what behaviors their teachers will expect from them during the school year, principal Katie Crites said.

The kindergarten camp lasts for three weeks and costs about $20,000 to pay for employees’ salaries and supplies. Franklin will pay for the program using federal Title I dollars, which the school district receives to pay for education programs for students from low-income families, Crites said. The camp is free for families.

In September, school officials weren’t sure they could offer the program this summer because of an $89,000, or 11 percent loss, due to federal spending cuts. Title I money will cover the cost of the kindergarten program and also will pay for a reading academy for 20 first-grade students and 20 second-grade students who need extra help developing their reading skills.

Students selected for the reading program will spend about three hours each day with teachers and classroom assistants, reviewing lessons that were taught during the school year but that they didn’t understand. Both the kindergarten camp and the reading academy classrooms will have one teacher and one assistant, which ensures students can receive more individual instruction if they need it, Crites said.

School officials wanted to add the reading academy to ensure more students had more chances to build strong reading skills. The teachers in the reading academy classrooms will know what specific lessons students in the program are struggling with, and can focus on those concepts, Crites said.

“When they don’t come in with (strong reading skills), they’re already behind. And it just continues to be a spiraling effect if we don’t close that gap during the school year,” Crites said.

By the time students reach third grade they must take IREAD-3, a mandatory test gauging whether students are reading at grade level, and students who don’t pass the exam cannot move on to fourth grade reading lessons. But IREAD-3 didn’t prompt Franklin to add the reading academy — the school district simply wanted to do more to ensure younger students were developing stronger reading skills, Crites said.

Franklin will select students for program based on in-class assessments teachers conduct throughout the school year that measure whether a student is keeping up or behind. The last of those

assessments will happen near the end of the school year, and school officials will send invitations to the students invited to the camp in May, Crites said.

School officials will track the reading scores of the 40 students who participate in the program to see how much their scores improve, but they will need several years to know the difference the reading academy can make, Crites said.

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