About 60 Aiken County third-grade students who are struggling readers will have the opportunity to participate in a summer reading camp, administered by the Aiken County School District and mandated by the S.C. General Assembly.

District personnel want all third-graders reading on grade level by the end of the third grade, said Jeanie Glover, the District's federal funds director.

“Since the camp is on a volunteer basis, we'll have an uphill battle to make sure the kids are eager to attend,” she said. “We're planning an exciting curriculum with science and social studies.”

The camp concept emerged as a mandated proviso from the S.C. General Assembly, which was pulled out of an education bill, Read to Succeed. That legislation has not been approved at this point.

State lawmakers also mandated the science and social studies content and agreed to fund the project statewide.

The Aiken County School District will receive about $40,000 – enough to serve a maximum of 60 children during the summer, Glover said.

The state also is allocating $300,000 statewide for transportation. However, the districts will have to pay for bus drivers' salaries.

The program will offer classes for six weeks for 5½hours a day.

The funding will pay for two sites, which will be Jefferson Elementary School in the Midland Valley area and J.D. Lever Elementary School, just outside of Aiken.

The District already has interventionists who work with some of the children likely to qualify for the camp program.

“The exposure to fourth grade will help the kids when next year starts,” Glover said. “We'll be able to develop our own curriculum.”

North Augusta Elementary School has its own funding that provides a summer reading program for third- and fourth-graders, Principal Laurie Reese said.

The allocation allows the school to offer the service to 30 children for half-day classes for 12 days.

Senior writer Rob Novit is the Aiken Standard's education reporter and has been with the newspaper since September 2001.