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Schools pool resources for summer

LAWRENCEVILLE -- For the second year in a row, some Gwinnett County schools have clustered together for the summer session.

While some schools' summer classes have been moved to a neighboring school because of construction, others have joined together in a model that was piloted last year with some Dacula and Archer cluster elementary schools.

By coming together, the schools were able to pool resources and teachers, which allowed for more flexibility in creating class assignments, said Harbins Elementary School Principal Cindy Truett, who was part of the pilot last year.

"It allowed us to really look at the data and use the teachers at all schools and assign kids to classes that really fit their needs," Truett said. "The bottom line is student learning. ... You want to maximize the three weeks that you have with kids before the testing starts."

As an added benefit, schools were able to save on expenses such as electricity and cooling costs, Truett said.

"It was really designed to meet the needs of kids most effectively," she said. "A side effect was we also saved money."

In this economy, when every penny counts, the school district is looking for ways to extend those savings. This summer, schools have closed on Fridays, which allows them to cut down on utility costs, a GCPS spokesman said.

The clustering concept is also beneficial to teachers, Truett said. During the summer, teachers often participate in institutes for professional development. When the institutes are held at the same schools as the summer school classes, it's a win-win situation for the educators and the children.

"The teachers are able to come together and learn about the latest research and then use those practices right then with the students," Truett said. "They can provide one-on-one and small group instruction that's really tailored to (students') needs."

Data will show if summer school should continue in this way in coming years.

"It's one great model to consider as we try to make summer school the most effective model that we can," Truett said.

This summer, the schools have clustered together as follows:

* Archer cluster: Cooper, Harbins and Lovin elementary schools are holding summer school at Lovin.

* Brookwood cluster: Brookwood, Craig, Gwin Oaks and Head elementary schools are holding summer school at Craig. Crews and Five Forks middle schools are holding summer school at Five Forks.

* Collins Hill cluster: McKendree, Rock Springs, Taylor and Walnut Grove elementary schools are holding summer school at Walnut Grove.

* Grayson cluster: Bay Creek and Couch middle schools are holding summer school at Couch.

* Lanier cluster: Sugar Hill, Sycamore and White Oak elementary schools are holding summer school at Sycamore.

* Mill Creek cluster: Duncan Creek, Fort Daniel, Harmony, Ivy Creek, Patrick and Puckett's Mill elementary schools are holding summer school at Duncan Creek Elementary.

* North Gwinnett cluster: Level Creek, Riverside and Suwanee elementary schools are holding summer school at Suwanee.

* Parkview cluster: Arcado, Camp Creek, Knight and Mountain Park elementary schools are holding summer school at Arcado.