Wake Ed

Wake County parents can pay to attend summer reading camps

Some Wake County parents will have the opportunity to pay for their children to attend three-week summer reading camps being operated under the state’s Read to Achieve program.

Citing a state mandate, the Wake County school system is setting up a process to allow for camp applications from parents of third-grade students who passed the state’s end-of-grade reading exam. The camps are still free, with transportation provided, to third-grade students who didn’t pass the reading exam.

School administrators said Monday they’re recommending charging $690 – or $230 per week – if parents of third-grade students who are proficient in reading also want to attend the summer camps. Transportation would not be provided to those students and they’d be given a seat only if there’s space available.

Administrators say availability will depend on how many of the students who were invited to the camp because they failed the exam don’t show up. But administrators said they’ve already begun hearing from parents who want their children to attend even though the camp is geared toward students who aren’t proficient in reading.

Each week of Wake’s camp revolves around a different theme, such as “Wild Weather,” “Wacky Animals” and “Wide World of Sports.” as part of what’s supposed to be a fun way to get students interested in reading. Last year’s camp drew rave reviews from school board members and parents.

Administrators will ask the school board to approve the fee at the July 21 meeting.

Under Read To Achieve, third-grade students who aren’t proficient at reading risk being retained or placed into special fourth-grade classes where they get extra reading instruction.

The General Assembly had inserted the language about opening the camps to third-graders who are proficient in reading at the same time it eliminated the requirement that those who failed the test must attend. Legislators let districts charge up to $825 for the fee students.

The decision by legislators to open the camps to students who passed the reading exam was questioned by school board members, who have repeatedly said Read to Achieve has good intentions but is a flawed program.

“Are we doing this because we’re required to make this offer to students who are proficient? And again we need to emphasize that,” said school board Vice Chairman Tom Benton. “Are we targeting some kind of educationally based outcome we’re after? Or are we doing this to satisfy the law?”