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Ouachita Parish School System has a new summer school program on the way



MONROE, La. – The Ouachita Parish School System is introducing a new summer program called “S.O.A.R.” for K through 8th-grade students. It stands for Summer Opportunities to Achieve Readiness. This free initiative offers more than reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Officials say the program is going to be a little different because students will be able to participate in S.T.E.M. sports (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and theatre arts activities.

“It’s not going to be one of these programs where you are mandated to come. It’s not a summer school for a promotion program. It is a summer school, to enrich and to remediate as much as we possibly can, in those days that we’re going to have. This is an extension of the school year, for the month of June,” said Dr. Don Coker, Superintendent Ouachita Parish Schools.

The program will be offered from June 1st through the 30th, Monday through Thursday. Superintendent Coker says the school system was able to pay for the new program through funds from the CARES Act, the coronavirus relief package signed by President Donald Trump in March 2020. This is designed to help pay the teachers during the month of June. The pay rate will be $30 an hour.

“Well, our rate of pay normally is $30. We are looking to see if we’re able just for a one-time contract to pay them just a little more than the $30 right now. So we’re not, and has not been finalized but if the CARES Act will allow us to do this and we can do it and stay within the legalities of what the money was intended for, then we’re certainly trying to pay a little bit more for teachers on this,” said Dr. Coker.

Officials say about 350 to 400 teachers filled out a survey saying they would teach this program. More than 2,000 parents are interested in letting their children participate.

“It’s for all of our kids. When I say all of them, if a kid is designated 504, if they’re designated as special needs child, they are also eligible for this. It’s free of cost, there is no charge for any of our students, I think it’s a great way for us to head into the summer months This is a time where they’re going to be able to do some things other than, you know, just curriculum all day long.”

Students can sign up for the S.O.A.R. program within the next few weeks. If you would like to look at the frequently asked questions, you can do so by clicking here.