In 2013, Buffalo Public Schools Superintendent Pamela Brown was proud to say that the district had a record number of students signing up for summer school, especially in light of the fact that former Interim Superintendent Amber Dixon had cancelled summer school altogether in 2012 for lack of funding. Summer school was not just offered for students who needed remedial academic help, but was also marketed as providing elementary enrichment activities like art, music and physical education for students of all academic levels.
But students didn't just sign up for summer school in record numbers. They also dropped out of summer school in record numbers that year, particularly at the elementary grades where attendance wasn't required for school credit recovery. A total of 9,671 registered for elementary summer school in 2013, but only 4,791 actually attended the first week, and only 3,758 were left by the last week of the four-week summer session.
Some parents complained that the elementary summer school programs offered few fun, enrichment activities beyond academic work.
This past summer, Say Yes Buffalo came up with $1.2 million to help pay for summer school when district administrators said they didn't have the money. When board members asked for reassurances that more students would stay in summer school programs this year, Say Yes and district leaders said more community-based organizations (CBOs) would be partnering with the district to provide stronger enrichment activities for children.
But in the end, the district fared no better with its elementary summer school enrollment in 2014 than in 2013. Fewer students registered -- 6,357 -- and only 3,617 stayed through Week Four. Average attendance fell by 178 students, though a greater percentage of elementary students who were registered actually attended summer school this year.
Below is the week-by-week breakdown provided by Say Yes. Note that the row titled "Elementary with CBO Partners" is a subset of the "All elementary" row above.