The Medford School District has more than sextupled staffing and funding for summer school in an effort to help students who have fallen behind and seniors who still want to graduate.
Summer school kicked off June 23 at the high schools and will run four days a week for seven weeks. Summer school also will be offered for three weeks in August at Hedrick and McLoughlin middle schools.
"This year, the board made a concerted effort to increase interventions since the only way to get kids to reach benchmarks is to have high quality instructors spend more time with them," said Todd Bloomquist, Medford's director of secondary education.
"This is the first time we've had this robust of a summer school program," he added.
The Medford School Board on Monday night was scheduled to adopt the 2014-15 budget, which includes $369,000 for the district's summer school program.
"That's up from $60,000 the year before," said Bloomquist.
With the additional funding, the district hired 25 teachers — 12 for North Medford High School, 10 for South Medford High School and three for Central Medford High School. They will provide classroom instruction and one-on-one tutoring to students needing to make up missed coursework, complete graduation requirements or practice a specific skill.
"In the past, we've only had two or three staff members available during the summer to monitor credit retrieval," he added.
In 2013, about 330 students attended summer school. But this year, the district is expecting between 800 and 1,000.
More than 200 students, including about 110 seniors, showed up Wednesday at North for the third day of summer school.
Many of the underclassmen are taking required classes such as Algebra 1, world studies, English 1, English 2, physical science and life science, while the upperclassmen work on computers, using instructional software to complete assignments and earn credits needed to graduate, said Assistant Principal Joe Cramer.
"We have about 20 seniors really close to graduating, and if they finish by Aug. 31, then it counts toward this year's numbers and they'll be part of the class of 2014," he said.
Cody Sabo, 18, is one of those seniors.
Sabo said while his friends were "living the dream," he took the advice of his parents and teachers and is attending summer school.
He was in the computer lab Thursday morning working on a world studies test and earlier in the week had completed the requirements for his economics credit.
"I'm stuck here," he said. "It's difficult, but it's my fault, I guess. I was just straight-up lazy."
If he can finish all his assignments and get his diploma, Sabo plans to enlist in the military.
"And if that doesn't work, then I'll work two jobs and just try not to go bankrupt," he said.
On the opposite side of the room, Kimberly Trompeter, 18, also was working on credit retrieval. Trompeter, who just wrapped up her second year as a senior, said she didn't want to come back next year.
"I missed a lot of my sophomore and junior year because of poor attendance and part of my senior year because I was having my daughter," she said.
Bloomquist said the district's goal is to boost students' achievement, improve the graduation rate and get kids better prepared for classes this fall.
"We have a 67 percent graduation rate in Medford and this program is attending to the needs of the population that is having the hardest time getting there," he said.