Citing staff shortages, the Madison School District on Wednesday let the families of about 700 students know it will not have spots for them in summer school.
In an email, the district told parents and other caregivers that while the district has “received a tremendous amount of interest from families looking to participate in (the district’s) Summer Semester program ... unanticipated staffing challenges” mean “we are not able to move forward with your child’s enrollment in the Summer Semester.”
District spokesperson Tim LeMonds said Friday that there were about 3,420 students enrolled in summer school and another approximately 700 “whose families have expressed interest in summer school programming” but the district can’t accommodate. The district has about 25,500 students total.
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Had the district been able to provide spots for all students interested, enrollment would be well above what it was in 2020 and 2021, when the COVID-19 pandemic was likely responsible for a reduction in enrollment to 3,505 and 3,992, respectively, according to the state Department of Public Instruction. Summer school in 2020 was online only, while in 2021 there was a hybrid online and in-person model.
But interest this summer, which will also offer online classes, has not rebounded to what it was prior to the pandemic. From 2015 to 2019, summer enrollment ranged between 4,930 and 5,825. Total enrollment is down as well from 2015, when it was about 27,300.
Summer school runs from June 20 to July 29. Enrollment for elementary and middle schoolers ran from March 14 to April 20 by invitation for those students teachers felt needed extra help. High schoolers could sign up beginning in late March. The district offers about 50 different classes across all grade levels.
LeMonds said staff shortages are affecting all classes and summer school sites, but the district is prioritizing spots for students who need remedial help. The Wednesday email says “the change in summer enrollment will not affect your child’s progression to their next grade level this fall.” Students the district can’t accommodate this summer will be able to keep their district-issued Chromebooks so they can work independently.
LeMonds said that as the district recruits and hires more summer teachers, it will expand course offerings and enrollment. Hourly pay for teachers this summer is down, however, from last summer now that a one-time infusion of COVID-19 relief money has run out.
LeMonds said the base rate for summer school staff is $28 per hour, or 12% higher than in previous years. But the relief money last year allowed the district to pay $40 an hour. The district’s teachers union, Madison Teachers Inc., had not responded to requests for comment.
Wednesday’s district email said “chronic staff shortages in education continue to impact the (district) community and school districts across the country.”
It also pointed to other summer options for students:
The district’s Summer Learning Resources hub
- , which offers activities students can complete independently, along with links to educational websites.
- , a partnership between the city of Madison, the district and various youth-serving organizations that have a database of camps, programs and other opportunities for school-age children.
- The list of summer camps at