Summer Bridge Program to close educational gap in Pinellas County

Thousands of elementary, middle students to attend

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. - Summer school is in the future of thousands of Pinellas County students, but not in the conventional sense of the phrase.

More than 3,400 elementary school and nearly 1,000 middle school students have already signed up for the school district's Summer Bridge Program.

"The summer bridge program is for students that are behind their grade level in reading at the elementary level," says Melanie Marques Parra with Pinellas County Schools.  "For the middle school program, its for students who are behind in the reading and math levels for their grade."

Cassandra Ventura-Reddick is a mother of four and says the program, set to kick off for the first time this summer, is opening a new door for her children.

"Most kids lose during the summer, they don't have that regimen we have during the school year, so this will kind of help keep them on track and keep them up to date," says Ventura-Reddick.

For her children and thousands of other Pinellas County students, that school year regimen can continue through the program.  According to the school district, the program is designed for students who have academically struggled throughout the year.  Those students were identified months ago and their parents given the opportunity to take advantage of the six-week program to help with their core curriculum struggles.

As for funding, Marques Parra says the district has received funding from various sources to pay the millions the program will cost, but for parents like Ventura-Reddick, this proactive program is invaluable.

"Next year when they start, they are happy, joy and they know where they're going and their not struggling," says Ventura Reddick.

Registration for the Summer Bridge Program ends May 3.  For more information on the program and if your child is eligible, visit the Pinellas County School District's website at

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