Archived Story

Board pleased with Sumner schedule

Published 10:14am Tuesday, October 29, 2013

If anybody at Monday’s Austin Schools Board meeting had negative opinions about Sumner Elementary School’s 45/15 calendar, they didn’t voice them.

Support for Sumner’s alternative schedule after two years remains high, as student, parent and teacher morale all seem to be good. While Sumner’s enrollment dipped from about 260 students from last year to 204 this year because it lost fifth-grade to I.J. Holton Intermediate School, board members are open to discussions about opening busing options to those not within Sumner’s enrollment community.

Superintendent David Krenz said if district busing was expanded for Sumner, the same option wouldn’t necessarily have to open for other schools. That’s because this decision serves a specific interest: allowing students the option of a 45/15 calendar. However, Krenz told the board to be aware of potential complaints. Though board members didn’t take any action on that subject, they can start doing some research and gather materials for future board meetings. The next board meeting will be held 5:30 p.m. Nov. 13 in the Austin City Council chambers.

Sumner success coach and Austin Packers varsity girls soccer coach Enrique Camarena-Corzo said if busing was opened district wide for students to attend Sumner, the Hispanic community would flock to Sumner.

Among other socio-economic factors that could influence enrollment, he said Mexico’s schools are based on the same calendar. Camarena-Corzo added, as a coach, the schedule seems to work perfect for him.

Third-grade Sumner teacher Deborah Cook loves the 45/15 calendar. Going back to a traditional calendar would be tough for her.

“I would find it very challenging to go back,” she said.

Natalie Bunnell, parent and head of Sumner’s parent teacher conferences, said the schedule works well for her family. Her two sons attend Sumner, and the family still takes vacations. Furthermore, her boys don’t mind returning to school after the 15-day breaks.

Sumner Principal Sheila Berger showed the board more benefits to the schedule, as scores on Math MCA tests are well above 2011’s. Reading scores also rose from 2011 to 2012, but fell significantly in the last year. Berger believes that’s because students were previously allowed to take the tests three times, compared to one this year. Regardless, Berger is confident in the knowledge retention for all students. She also showed major benchmark proficiency improvements in English language learners, which have skyrocketed from 3 to 17.76 percent over two years and are currently more than 7 percent ahead of the state average.

Clearly, the perception about Sumner has been good, but Berger and officials will have to apply for another state waiver for the 45/15 schedule as the current one will expire after this school year. Along with the application, the school will also have to hold three of its own public meetings for parents regarding the process.

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