Wake County school board members were openly critical of the timing and nature of the changes that state legislators made earlier this month to the Read to Achieve program.
A major concern for staff is how the law now says that third-grade students who pass the state’s end-of-grade reading test can now opt to attend a summer reading camp. Those students would have to pay a fee of no more than $825 to attend. Wake got less than that amount per student from the state.
Cathy Moore, Wake’s deputy superintendent for school performance, said they don’t anticipate many families who passed the EOG to want to attend. But she said it would be “cumbersome” to take those students this summer as it costs Wake more than what the state provides per student to run the program.
“The kids who passed the EOG and meet Senator Berger’s expectation should be allowed to go to summer camp at a cost less than what it costs us to provide?” Wake school board member Bill Fletcher said of Sen. President Pro Tem Phil Berger.
Moore said it will be easier accommodating another change in the law that says that students who have good cause exemptions can also attend the reading camps. She said they’ve got the space to take those students and will notify them they can attend the camp.
But since the camp is organized into three two-week units, Moore said they wouldn’t enroll those students until the third week of the program when a new unit starts.
Another change in the law allows districts to reduce the lengthy of the camps from six-to-eight weeks to three-to-six weeks and 72 hours of instruction. Moore said they’re opting to not shorten the camps because they were already planned out.
In an interview after the committee meeting, Fletcher amplified on his complaints about the changes.
“Passing legislation on June 10 for a program that was already being implemented based on prior rules doesn’t really us very much,” Fletcher said.
Fletcher said the legislature added new options that Wake logistically can’t implement this year.
Fletcher said it would be a “logistical nightmare” to expand the program to accept tuition students. He also questioned why, other than for cheap childcare, a parent of a child who passed the EOG would want to attend a camp that’s focusing on basic third-grade skills.
“I don’t know what he legislature was thinking,” Fletcher said.
Berger’s office fired back Thursday, noting how Wake school board members and administrators have complained they may have to make cuts and even possibly lay off employees because of the costs of implementing proposed state teacher pay raises.
“The Wake County School Board recently complained that teacher pay raises proposed by the legislature were too generous, so it is not surprising that they’re now upset because the legislature passed the changes requested by superintendents and local school boards from across the state as quickly as possible – in the second full week of the short session,” Berger’s office said in a written statement.