Programs to fill District 51 summer school gap

Summer programs may be sparse in local public schools. But other programs will keep kids learning over summer break, inside and outside the schools.

School District 51 de-funded summer extended learning last year as part of $13.6 million in budget cuts for the 2011–12 school year. That cut was not restored for this year’s summer school, leaving all but six schools without summer learning programs.

Chatfield, Clifton, Rim Rock and Rocky Mountain elementary schools, Mount Garfield Middle School and Dual Immersion Academy will use grant or other non-district dollars to fund limited enrichment programs this summer. Those programs are open only to a limited number of students at the schools and are free to attend, unlike most summer programming in the community.

Chipeta and Wingate elementary schools and Bookcliff, East and Orchard Mesa middle schools will host sports, arts and recreation programming this summer, but those programs will be run through Grand Junction Parks & Recreation.

The Western Colorado Writers’ Forum will host “The Language of Summer,” a young writers camp, June 18–29 at Scenic Elementary and July 9–20 at East Middle School. Jill Burkey, who will teach poetry at the camp, said budget cuts at the school district and the elimination of district-funded summer school for a second consecutive year inspired the idea for the $135 camp.

“We thought we might be able to help out since there’s not as much (district) funding,” Burkey said.

Burkey said the camp is designed for students who love writing and also want more one-on-one coaching with writing. Poetry, puppetry and story-writing workshops at the writers camp are for students entering third through sixth grades. A grant has provided some 20 scholarships, which will bring the price of registration down to $45 for students who qualify for free or reduced-price school lunches to attend the workshops. Registration is available at

Certified Music Therapist Cherlyn Crawford said the budget crunch inspired her to provide a Music Therapy and Speech Remediation Camp for $120 each Tuesday and Thursday in June at Redlands United Methodist Church. Crawford said limited funding means some students who may benefit from speech and communication skills therapy do not get therapy from a limited number of professionals in school if the students’ needs are not severe enough to meet criteria for educational intervention.

“If you have an educational impairment that didn’t result from an injury, then it happens on a space-available basis. They’re just really stretched,” Crawford said.

Crawford’s speech therapy sessions will be available for kindergarten through second-graders from 4 to 4:35 p.m. and for third- through fifth-graders from 5 to 5:35 p.m. June 5-28. Call 210-1552 to register and get a needs assessment before Monday.

Other sites playing host to summer programming this year include Mesa County Public Libraries, Fruita Community Center, The Art Center, the John McConnell Math & Science Center of Western Colorado, Cross Orchards and Colorado Mesa University.


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