School News

County school summer camps canceled; new summer program being designed for struggling k-1 kids

by Kate Evans

Morgan County Schools Camp MoCo (grades k-5) and Camp Alpha (grades 6-8) summer camp programs have been canceled for this summer. School officials have said the change is due to state legislation.

A new summer program will primarily target struggling first graders who will be in third grade in 2026 along with struggling kindergarteners who will be in third grade in 2027, said Elementary Education Director Kandy Pentoney.

West Virginia House Bill 3035, known as the Third Grade Success Act, mandates extended care for k-3 students who are deficient in reading and math, Pentoney said.  That means extended day (after-school) and extended year (summer) programs.

A new Morgan County summer program is being formed to meet that law.

West Virginia House Bill 3035 provides a multi-tiered system of support for early literacy and numeracy in kindergarten through grade three.  Among other stipulations, it also requires retention in the third grade in certain circumstances and specifies exceptions to the third-grade retention requirement.

The summer program will focus on five basic reading skills — phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, listening comprehension and fluency, Pentoney said.  Staff will help kids to shore up their decoding skills and providing them an opportunity to learn vocabulary.

The program will also concentrate on math skills, including numbers and operations, numeracy skills, addition and subtraction, she said.

“We want to make sure they know their numbers,” Pentoney said.

Camp MoCo and Alpha were created to fill the gap left by the end of the former Energy Express summer camp program. It was. a local partnership effort among the school system. Starting Points Family Resource Center and the Extension program.

Camp MoCo had an emphasis has been literacy, physical recreation and a lot of activities and fun, Pentoney said.  Math and STEM activities were added to the program.

Camp Alpha was a middle school remedial English and math program that included afternoon STEM, cooking, nutrition, outdoor recreation, arts and crafts and other MC After 3 activities.

New summer program

Pentoney said the county is still ironing out the details of the new summer school program, which hasn’t been given a name yet.  Based on the number of students that may be eligible for the program, they may need more staff to run it.

Certified teachers will be working with first grade and kindergarten students with a ratio of one teacher to three to five students, Pentoney said. It will be a very tailored program with much smaller groups.

The funding for AmeriCorps staff is no longer there so they won’t have any AmeriCorps workers to help with the program this summer, she said.

Three sites planned

The new summer program is planned for Widmyer Elementary, Pleasant View Elementary and Paw Paw Schools and will provide breakfast and transportation, Pentoney said.  Transportation is still being worked out for all three schools and may differ.

School directors will be looking at end-of-the-year data to make final decisions as to how many students will be eligible for the program, which could be only two hours long, Pentoney said.

End of the year benchmark exams are scheduled at the end of April. The date hadn’t been set yet as to when parents will be contacted if their children are eligible for the summer program.

Organizers’ goal now is to advertise staff vacancies for the program.

They are also working with community groups — the Boys and Girls Club, 4-H and the Ice House — to find out details of their summer programs to let people know what alternatives are available for their children this summer, Pentoney said.