MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — In a few days, the opportunity for parents to sign their kids up for free tutoring programs at select Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will end.
CMS is looking for more students to sign up for its Out-of-School Time Tutoring program for the fall.
"Right now what we know is students are off grade level," Hidden Valley Elementary School Principal Daniel Gray said. "This is a perfect opportunity for kids in grades K-12 to get back to where they need to be."
CMS says there are currently 1,605 students registered for both virtual and in-person tutoring. There are still 948 spots open for in-person tutoring and 3,507 virtual spots left.
The district previously announced a $50 million investment into school tutoring programs. The money comes from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act of 2021. It's aimed to provide students with out-of-school tutoring to help offset learning loss due to COVID-19.
"A child can get an individualized tutoring experience, even if it's virtual like that's a big thing, that's an opportunity for a child to really get some focused attention to support their learning," Gray said.
The program is available in 42 high-needs schools and 30 outside groups are leading the tutoring programs. Each school has a site coordinator.
"They were also able to kind of pinpoint what their school needed in particular," Kimberly Oden, CMS Expanded Learning Coordinator, said. "So if say math in third grade was an issue, then they were able to target those students specifically."
The tutoring program also has free technology, hotspots, transportation, and snacks. Students will receive tutoring for at least 30 minutes a day, three days a week.
There was public pushback about what was perceived as a lack of urgency in implementing and getting students help last year.
At the direction of Interim Superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh, CMS brought in help this year from the Charlotte Executive Leadership Council, a group of business leaders from around the Charlotte area.
One of their focus areas was implementing a functioning and effective tutoring network.
"Tutoring is one word, but there's a lot of intercuts to getting the program rolled out," LaShauna Lowry, CMS Executive in Residence, said. "From transportation to making sure we have snacks and making sure you have supervision for the students after school and making sure they have the technology to be able to go home."
Lowry is an executive director with Ally Financial, a bank holding company. Lowry is a part of a team of in-residence business leaders who are helping the district bring structure and operational management to programs in the district.
"We've really been able to be able to provide consultation, be able to provide a different perspective or even be able to provide solutions," Lowry said.
The partnership with CELC is supposed to bring more than 1,000 tutoring volunteers, facilitate of a tutoring workshop, and at least three companies to participate in school partnership pilots.
"We focus on the education aspect of it, and not necessarily the operations aspect of it," Oden said. "And so they have been a tremendous help in kind of, you know, asking questions that we may not be thinking to ask."
The group will be embedded in CMS schools for up to a year and a half.
Parents have until Friday to sign their kids up for the tutoring program.
"If we don't hit those pieces, early, and often, and we don't hit them well enough, then we're going to produce kids that aren't going to be successful," Gray said.
Parents who want their kids to participate can sign up online.