As the end of the current school year quickly approaches, state education officials are working to make sure students over their summer break don't lose too much of what they've learned during the school year.
State School Superintendent Richard Woods was in Gainesville Monday and said the state is working with local school districts to make a push for summer literacy.
"We're working with our public library systems to make sure that during the summer that not just students, but families, are enrolled together," Woods told the Gainesville Rotary Club.
He acknowledged following the meeting that he was surprised to learn when he took office that the State Department of Education did not partner with library systems during the summer months to promote summer reading programs.
Woods said DOE is giving away 100,000 books to students across the state this summer, many of those through the public libraries. He said maintaining strong reading skills is a natural tie-in to other subject areas.
"What you find out is whatever course you go into, you're going to have to read - all the testing that follows, you're going to have to read - higher education, you have to read," Woods said. "Reading is something that opens up any door to any child anywhere in the world."
He said he also wants to see additional state and federal funding go toward new literacy initiatives, and some of that could be in the form of summer programs.
The State Department of Education has a summer resource page on its web site.
Woods also addressed a long list of other education topics during the lunch hour meeting - state legislation that reduces the amounts of standardized testing required by Georgia's public schools, improvement in graduation rates, state help for failing schools and retention of quality teachers.
Editor's note: Look for other stories during the week on Woods' observations.