Alachua County School Board Approves Take-Home Backpacks As Part Of A Summer Extension Project


Nearly 30,000 Alachua County students will have a new way to continue learning this summer.

The Alachua County School Board voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve spending district funds on teacher created materials for student summer backpacks.

This summer extension project cost $414,381.39, and it will provide 10,513 backpacks with materials for educational support to each student K-9. The district bought each filled backpack for $45.

Within the backpack there comes a parent tip card, a writing journal and a “4 TIME For Kids© Nonfiction Readers” workbook. These materials are meant to prepare students for the upcoming 2021-2022 school year, keep their brains fresh during summer and aid parents in helpful learning strategies for their children.

The program launches at a key moment following a year and a half of mixed online and in-person learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Alachua County receives Title I federal funding annually to help schools in areas with students experiencing high levels of poverty.

Valdenora Fortner, the district’s director of Title I funding, said that “every day for six weeks during the summer, parents have activities in order to keep their students, their children ready for school in order to keep our brains sharp and moving.”

Valdenora Fortner, the district's director of Title I funding, answers citizens' questions concerning the summer extension project.
Valdenora Fortner, the district’s director of Title I funding, answers citizens’ questions concerning the summer extension project. (Courtesy of The Alachua County School Board)

Short informational videos clips will be provided on the School Board Website’s Title 1 page, and flyers will be shared to parents explaining this project.

Second Language Support was also purchased for students and families that would benefit from Spanish and English translated texts.

Parents will be required to pick up the backpacks at certain locations, because the backpacks have not been prepared in time for the end of the 2020-2021 school year on June 16. The Alachua County School Board will be posting these locations online once they are known.

About Elise Elder

Elise is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing

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