More than 100 elementary school students filed through the rain and into Public School 130 in the South Bronx this past weekend for their fourth straight Saturday of intensive English classes.
The classes are voluntary and offered to students struggling in science, math and English.
The turnout at PS 130, located at 750 Prospect Ave., was even better than local school officials anticipated. The 110 children who showed up Saturday were drawn from five schools in Community School District 8. That’s 30 more than were originally invited, officials said.
“My mom made me come so I can learn more English than Spanish,” said third-grader Ryan Prens.
Eight-year-old Silvia Gonzalez said she liked to learn and her mom, who works at a beauty parlor, was glad to have a safe spot for her on Saturdays.
For six Saturdays, third-, fourth- and fifth-grade children, all of them Latino, were asked to attend three hours of English classes at PS 130.
On April 21, the school will start a second round of Saturday classes, prepping fourth-grade students for the state math tests they will be taking May 16, said Principal Daniel Garcia.
The Board of Education has mandated that all school districts establish a Saturday program for students in grades 2 through 12.
So far, 26 school districts and many high schools have started the classes.
Voluntary Saturday classes are expected to become a regular part of the school week beginning in September, with the Board of Education dedicating $34 million to the program during the next school year.
Although an extra school day is far from popular with all parents, Garcia said that in his overwhelmingly poor school district, parents have responded positively.
“Parents aren’t saying no to six days of school,” he said.
But the popularity of the extra school day means that Saturday classes are also larger than planned. Classes have as many as 25 students, not the small, tutorial-style classes of 15 that Garcia had hoped.
Still, he said, that was better than the average class of 38 students he has in a typical weekday class.