Thanks to budget cuts, summer school's out for summer 

Goyette Williams has fallen behind earning the high school credits needed to graduate on time. Though she will be a junior at Burton High School in the fall, she has only 75 credits, which makes her technically still a sophomore after failing courses in math, science and Spanish over the past two years.

She has little opportunity, however, to make up those classes and get back on track.

“I’ll have to do Cyber High School after school next year,” the 16-year-old said, “and probably enroll in City College.”

Williams is one of the 30 percent of students who fail at least one class in ninth grade, but because of budget cuts, they have no opportunity to make up the course, according to Coleman Advocates — a nonprofit organization for children and youth.

Pecolia Manigo, Coleman’s education equity campaign leader, said these students are more likely to drop out of high school.

“There’s no summer school this year and there’s no opportunity for credit recovery,” she said. “Based on the information we’ve been able to review, Latinos and African- Americans are failing at a much higher rate, and if there’s no opportunity to make it up, they are more likely to drop out.”

According to San Francisco Unified School District officials, summer school was once offered to all students who needed courses, but because of funding cuts, it is now only offered to seniors needing credits.

The district cut the summer school program in the 2009-10 school year in anticipation of a $113 million deficit through the 2011-12 school year.

A limited summer program, though, is being offered this summer after Manigo and Coleman appealed to Mayor Ed Lee.

Lee awarded $250,000 to the school district to fund summer programs for 900 freshmen who need to make up math or English credits.

“It’s not nearly enough,” Manigo said. “It was a quick fix. They have to restore summer school or it’s impossible for anyone to believe they are not setting these kids up for failure.”

Manigo and Coleman petitioned the district to put $600,000 toward summer school and help more students recover lost credits.

For her part, Williams thinks she can make it.

“I do have potential of getting back on track,” she said. “If I work hard and focus on my work.”

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

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