CLOVER — About 175 children in Clover’s six elementary schools are receiving after-school academic assistance in a districtwide tutoring program that was launched last month.
“For some children, we just don’t have enough time during the school day to do everything we need to support them,” said Pam Cato, director of instruction. “This gives them some dedicated time for instruction.”
The Clover school board earlier this year approved a $200,000 budget to launch the program at each elementary school. Students are recommended for the program by teachers or based on test scores.
Cato — who gave a report on the program to Clover school board members last week — said the final cost of the program could run significantly less than budgeted, perhaps around $50,000.
She said at the time the tutoring program was approved, school leaders were not certain how many children it would serve. In addition, she said, plans called for the schools to provide transportation home after the tutoring.
However, she said two schools — Griggs Road and Bethany elementaries — have been able to offer the program without transportation because the parents at those schools were able to pick up their children.
She said the program began in early October and is planned to continue through April, although some principals have requested it continue longer in the spring. The program begins at 2:15 p.m., after the regular school day, and continues until about 3 p.m., she said.
Each elementary school has designed its own tutoring program, usually offered two or three days after school. Cato said each school decides which grades the program will serve.
“We started out thinking that it would be mainly for third to fifth grades,” Cato said. “But several of our schools have pushed it down to first grade, to try to reach those students very early.”
Calub Courtwright, principal of Clover’s Bethany Elementary School, said the Bethany program is serving about 60 children from first to fifth grades two days each week.
He said the children are recommended for the program by teachers based on classroom performance and test scores. Some children also are recommended by a school Student Intervention Team, or SIT.
“We really know the children, and we really know who needs what,” said Courtwright. “But a lot of it is teacher input and input off of test scores.”
He also said some parents have requested that their child be in the program. “We look at the student as a team and decide if they need the help or not,” he said. “Most often times, we do give them the support.”
He said most parents whose children were recommended for the program have been very appreciative. “The parents, they’re willing to do whatever it takes to help their child be successful,” he said.
Courtwright said he has no doubt the program is making a difference.
“There’s no doubt that they are showing progress,” he said about the students. “It’s a very intense 50 minutes, it’s very efficient. We start at 2:15 and go until 3 p.m. The teachers do a great job.”
Cato said Clover has offered such a program in the past, but transportation has always been an issue. She said elementary schools dismiss at 2:15 p.m. and the tutoring program needs to end at 3 p.m. so school buses can take the students home before they need to pick up students at the high school.
However, she said the district has ordered new activity buses which would be equipped to serve the tutoring program students. If those buses are used to provide transportation for the tutoring program, she said, the district might be able to extend the length of program.
“We’re playing with lots of options to improve,” Cato said, and the time factor involved with transportation is a critical factor. “We’re starting small, because we don’t have a lot of date to go with.”
She said the school district will be looking for a tool to help it evaluate the success of the program. She said such an evaluation might include surveys to collect input from parents and teachers.