Parents push for advanced program

In the district's elementary schools, there are 21 kids in PACE math; 156 in the middle school, and 172 at the high school. In humanities/English, 48 kids are enrolled; 52 at the middle school, and 66 at the high school.

High ability learners are selected for the accelerated school work through a variety of testing scores and teacher recommendations. Many qualify for both PACE programs. "There are some very math-advanced kids, many humanities, but many bridge both," said Sunkes. "Both programs give the kids time to interact with their peers and not slow down, or repeat what their thoughts are; the other kids just get it."

However, with the PACE programs held outside the traditional classroom for just one hour a week, some parents would like to see this enhanced.

Kathy Welsh has a third-grader in a special education program and a sixth grader in the PACE program.

"It's a struggle; I have to push for the system to produce benefits. My older child lost interest in school because there was no challenge by third grade. We are falling behind. I see a general erosion of the program," said Welsh.

Just how much money will be allocated to PACE programs remains a question, as the board of education has just begun to map out a spending plan for 2007.

"There have been no decisions made," said board president Elizabeth Herkenham. "We ask all parents to stay involved in the budget planning process, and to continue to advocate for your kids.""

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