LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Now that many students are back learning inside classrooms, Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio is focusing discussion on finding ways for kids to spend more time learning face-to-face with instructors. On Tuesday, he announced upcoming summer programs. That was before he pitched shifting school start and end times and mentioned talks of adding days to the school calendar during the Board of Education meeting Tuesday night.

What You Need To Know

  • JCPS students can now enroll in summer learning programs, for both in-person and virtual learning experiences

  • One eighth-grader can attest to the help the summer program was for her a couple of years ago

  • The school district is discussing shifting school start and release times back 

  • There's also talk of adding instruction days to the school calendar

Standing inside a Western Middle School for the Arts music classroom, educators spoke. They celebrated the plans underway for a robust summer learning program. So did 14-year-old Love Eden. 

There will be 100 sites for programs to include a Backpack League, Summer League, and Specialized Camps. There will be in-person hands-on activities to choose from, as well as camp-like "fun" experiences, and even virtual options with some at-home activities.

"I think it'll be really important, because people really need the human interaction and especially with education - because it's harder for people to focus on Chromebooks and online than it is in person - so I think that'll be a really great experience for people who haven't tried it during these times," Eden said. 

The eighth-grader did a similar program two years ago when she took on a leadership role. 

"I really learned how to like be confident," she beamed. 

She expressed feelings that kids may need the added time around each other after being alone throughout the pandemic, and time learning face-to-face. Pollio said the same. In a school board meeting Tuesday, he said more learning time is necessary for students to do better academically.

"There is direct correlation when schools, and specifically districts, increase learning time for students, outcomes improve," he told the Board. "This is even more so for disadvantaged students and for the reduction in the achievement gap."

"We are going to have to dramatically increase the time that we have our students face to face with JCPS educators," he presented.

The summer program may be one way to do that. Teachers will be paid, meals provided to students, and also transportation available. There's also been the idea floated of adding some instruction days to the school year's calendar. However, that idea didn't get support from a district calendar committee. 

Pollio also wants to push back some start times, to make them later in the morning with a later release time. He says it would benefit some age groups to give them more time to sleep in the morning. Some of the Board agreed with the idea. 

But for the summer, at least, Eden hopes her peers will choose to go back onto a school campus to learn. 

"Sometimes, you don't get the fun in normal school but in this program, you really get fun and education as a pair," she explained.

So far, JCPS says about 100 children are signed up to be part of the summer program. They want that number to grow into the thousands. Registration information will be available at the district's website.