Policies all year round: Ensure your district’s policies supports summer programs
While the words “summer” and “vacation” are frequently paired together, school boards and administrators know that district operations do not come to a halt during the summer months.
For many districts throughout California, summer programming will soon be in full swing, providing students with a range of classes, educational services, enrichment opportunities, access to nutritious meals and safe places to spend their days. Maintaining up-to-date policies for summer programs is crucial to establishing and clearly communicating district practices and helping students to succeed.
Summer Learning
Summer learning loss is an unfortunate but well-documented phenomenon. The National Summer Learning Association reports that most students lose two months of mathematical skills every summer, low-income children lose two to three months in reading, and, by ninth grade, the cumulative effect of summer learning loss accounts for two-thirds of the reading achievement gap between low-income children and their middle-income peers. Summer programs can address the setbacks students may experience during long breaks from their regular instructional program, combatting regression while allowing students to practice essential skills and make academic progress. For some districts, this means summer school, which typically provides supplemental instruction to students requiring remediation or seeking additional credits in core academic subjects.

However, traditional summer school programs are not the only opportunities available for students in many districts. Summer learning programs offering recreation and enrichment may also be provided, including programs offered through collaborations with local agencies, community organizations and other businesses or groups.

For school boards, it is important to ensure alignment between the district’s summer offerings and its Local Control and Accountability Plan, other applicable district and school plans, and the educational program provided during the regular school year. This alignment should be reflected in a district policy addressing summer learning programs, as should other key information, such as enrollment priority, availability of district transportation and program evaluation. CSBA’s sample BP 6177 – Summer Learning Programs is a useful starting point for these and other matters related to summer programs, and can be revised as needed. Other CSBA resources for summer learning can be found at www.csba.org/summerlearning.

  • Summer programs can address the setbacks students may experience during long breaks from regular instruction
  • A district policy should be adopted to ensure summer offerings align with LCAP and other applicable plans provided during the regular school year
Summer Meals
According to California Food Policy Advocates, more than two million children in California live in households that struggle to put enough food on the table, and 85 percent of children who benefit from free or reduced-price meals during the school year are unable to obtain food through similar meal programs during the summer. While many districts provide meals to students enrolled in summer school, districts may also tackle issues of hunger and food insecurity by sponsoring a CDE-approved summer meal program, ensuring that free, healthy meals are available to children in low-income communities over the summer. Districts sponsoring a summer meal program under either the Seamless Summer Feeding Option or Summer Food Service Program, which both allow for meal program reimbursement, provide meals to children in the community throughout the summer regardless of participation in the district’s summer learning programs.

CSBA’s sample BP and AR 3552 – Summer Meal Program provide a framework for districts approved by the CDE under the SSFO and SFSP programs to convey essential details such as plans for community outreach, site selection, meal information and strategies for program implementation.

Although summer plans and priorities vary by district, all school boards and administrators should consider their critical role in establishing policies that can guide the development, implementation and maintenance of summer programming. CSBA maintains sample policies on these topics and continues to work to provide districts with policy tools and services to promote educational excellence and student well-being.