OREM Not many teenagers would want to spend their summers rising with the sun only to hit the geometry books at 7:50 a.m. every day.
But some 800 students in the Alpine School District's summer-school session are doing just that.
Students say the summer classes aren't too bad. However, state legislators touring the school sites Tuesday are jumping with joy over Alpine's pilot program.
"From a legislative perspective, we're very happy," said Rep. John Dougall, R-American Fork.
The district's extended-year program at the high school answers several issues state lawmakers have been talking about for years, including providing teachers with opportunities for greater pay and getting optimal use out of school facilities.
"I think it's terrific a very creative approach," said Rep. Lorie Fowlke, R-Orem. "It's a great use of resources, both in buildings and teachers. And it benefits our students enormously."
Alpine district launched its first block of summer classes on June 2 at two sites: Mountain View High School in Orem for south-area students and Lehi High School for north-area students.
The classes, which are two hours and 10 minutes, run from 7:50 a.m. to 3:25 p.m. The second summer school block begins June 24.
About a third of the students are taking accelerated courses while the remaining two-thirds are in remedial.
Katie Egbert, 16, of Orem, is taking geometry, English and computer technology. "It's a really good opportunity to make up credits," she said. "It does seem to take up my whole day. It's cool though. Whatever. I can hang out with my friends on the weekend."
Some of the students are retaking classes in hopes of better understanding the subject and to receive a higher grade. Other students want to get ahead to free up their schedules during the regular school year for other activities or to prepare for higher-level courses.
Kelton Seely, 16, of Orem, is taking English, math and health. "I'm just retaking them," Seely said. He said the summer classes are more individualized, and the personal attention has helped him understand the concepts better.
The classes range in size from 15 to 25 students.
Belen Gonzalez, 16, of Lindon, is taking geometry so she can move right into Algebra II in the fall. This will also free up her schedule for other college prep classes, she said. "I could even graduate with more credits," Gonzalez said.
There is a $25 registration fee per summer course, but if a student successfully passes the class, a refund is given.
"Kids can really take advantage of this, and we feel very good about it," said Alpine District Superintendent Vernon Henshaw.
The summer school program is costing the district $500,000. This includes teacher salaries, clerical, administration, counselors, custodial, textbooks and technology support, said Alpine district business administrator Rob Smith.
Teachers are paid per course at the rate they would earn if they were teaching during the regular school year. For example, a first-year teacher with a bachelor's degree would earn $1,250 for instructing one class during one block. A teacher with eight years experience and a master's degree would earn $1,753 per class for a block.
Participating school principals and assistant principals are paid a stipend of $2,500 each for the summer.
As part of the summer-school program, Mountain View High serves a midday meal to around 250 students through the federal, free summer-lunch program.
Assistant superintendent Gary Seastrand, who led the district's summer-school committee, said there is potential for the summer program to grow as the district offers more courses.
"This really is the first year of years to come," Seastrand said.Alpine board members and members of the district's community council joined legislators for the tour Tuesday. "This program has been needed for quite some time," said Lyn Denna, secretary for the community council.
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