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Colorado school sees spike in summer attendance after providing transportation

250 kids riding bus to summer school each day
Pinnacle Charter School in Federal Heights
Posted at 7:29 AM, Jun 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-24 09:29:23-04

FEDERAL HEIGHTS, Colo. — After the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted much of the 2020-2021 school year, many districts expanded summer school programs to help students catch up. But just providing classes wasn’t enough for Pinnacle Charter School in Federal Heights.

The school, in the Adams 12 Five Star district, found that students also need a way to get to school in June.

Heathre Palige, community learning center grant director for Pinnacle, said grant funding enabled the school to provide summer bus service for the first time ever. Two hundred and fifty students use the bus each day.

“We were able to have more teachers come in and more students come in this year because of different funding that was available through the state, so that was amazing,” Palige said.

More than 700 students K-12 signed up for Pinnacle’s summer school programming. That’s about a third of the school’s students. Elementary students are doing math and literacy every day. Elementary Principal Rebecca Seive said they also get breakfast and lunch every day, social emotional learning time, and special visitors.

In a community with a high number of low-income and working families, Pinnacle found it was also important for schools to continue providing community services through the summer. Families can visit the school’s resource center, “Timby’s Tienda,” named after Pinnacle's mascot, a timber wolf. The center provides food and clothing.

Teachers said many of the students were excited to attend summer school to be with their friends, and they hope it will give them a jump start on the 2021-2022 school year.

“Hopefully, when August comes, they can just plow right into school,” said special education teacher Shelley Arnold. She said teachers also benefit from being able to observe their students longer and practice their own skills.

Seive said Pinnacle will look at offering expanded summer school and bus transportation in future years.

“It's been a very positive response from our parents. They are very thankful and the students are excited about being here,” she said.