By Maureen Robertson
Parents wanting their children to participate in the Ramona school district’s Extended Student Program (ESP) Summer Camp may have to look elsewhere if more families don’t enroll by May 1.
About 49 children entering kindergarten through sixth grade are needed to make the program financially viable. As of Tuesday, the school district had 16 confirmed campers and another four expressing interest.
The program is completely self-funded by parents who pay to have their children participate, Supt. Robert Graeff told two parents who expressed concern at a recent school board meeting that the summer program may be canceled. Both parents told the board they would be willing to pay more to see the program continue.
“While the summer program is a bit more relaxed than during the school year, the increased recreational opportunities in which the children participate still serve as a vital resource in their childhood development,” said Michael Harrison, father of two children in the ESP. “They have the opportunity to engage their curiosity by visiting new places, maintain and build new friendships with their peers and, probably most importantly, enjoy this special time of life when they get to enjoy the summer months playing, swimming and just being a kid.”
During the school year, ESP is open at the children’s school before and after school. In the summer, it is a daylong program that goes from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
When the district operated a summer school program, more families enrolled their children in the summer camp, school officials noted. The district has not had summer school at the elementary level for the past two years. Elementary students instead participate in an independent online program from home or the library.
ESP Summer Camp is scheduled weekdays from June 20 through Aug. 26 at Ramona Elementary School, 415 Eighth St. Cost is $125 per child per week, with sibling discounts available.
Breakfast and lunch will be provided at no additional charge through July as a result of a federally funded program for all Ramona children up to age 18, said Assistant Superintendent David Ostermann. After that, ESP parents supply the food.
ESP provides field trips, guest speakers, science workshop and computer lab in addition to play time.
“They go to the swimming pool at least once a week, to the Wild Animal Park, to the library, places like that,” said Ostermann. “...If you take a week’s vacation, you don’t pay for that week.”
For more information about ESP Summer Camp, see the district’s website, www.ramonausd.net, or call the ESP office, 760-787-2051.