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Half of residents in 833 participate in district's Community Education

Nearly half of the approximate 100,000 residents of the South Washington County Schools district participate in one or more community education programs, according to Director Ernie Pines.

Pines, who presented a report on Community Education services to the School Board Sept. 2, said activities are 75 percent paid for by user fees with the remainder coming from state-allowed special tax levies.

Community education has grown significantly from the 1960s when the "Keep the Lights On" movement urged school districts to allow the public to use schools for other activities when not used by students.

The newest program under community education is oversight of a preschool program this year at Pullman and Newport elementary schools.

Other programs under community education:

• Last year, 1,426 children participated in Kid's Club, a before- and after-school program, and 914 kids were in summer programs.

• Swimming lessons is the largest area in community education programs with 4,822 kids in 524 classes. In water exercise classes, 2,335 people participated.

• 800 kids took advantage of home-study courses.

• The summer Skills Plus program offers tutoring for struggling students.

• 3,400 kids were in evening gymnastics programs at Park and Woodbury high schools.

• 2,635 kids participated in summer camps and clinics.

• 1,440 students in grades six to eight were in middle school intramural athletics.

• The Credit Recovery program offered 1,000 students chances to earn more than 2,000 credits.

• The High School Diploma Center, which graduated 30 students in June, is now open in summer with five additional students getting diplomas.

• 566 people participated in Adult Basic Education.

• Community Band, active for 17 years, serves musicians from ages 12 to 80.

• Classes and activities are offered for adults with disabilities.

• About 20 programs are offered at the South Washington Senior Center.

• National speakers talk to residents about parenting issues.

• The Lifelong Learning Foundation, funded by private donations and fundraising, awards six college scholarships each year.

• Community Education is again participating in the Empty Bowls project to raise money for orphanages in Africa.

• Adult Enrichment brings hundreds of people to classes on topics and activities from computers to crafts.

• Community education oversees events and programs in Park, Woodbury and East Ridge high school activity centers.

• Early Childhood and Family Education offers a variety of programs for pre-school children.

• School readiness programs are offered including a two-week "Kindergarten Here We Come" summer program.

• Kindergarten Plus offers an additional half day of kindergarten in addition to the half day paid for by the district.

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
(651) 459-7600