High school students flood community college

June 19, 2009 10:58:42 PM PDT
South Bay students who were counting on summer school to help them graduate may have to make other plans. First, many high schools eliminated summer classes. So students turned to community college for summer credits, but now they are running out of space.

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Fourteen-year-old Samantha Martinez was planning to go to summer school at Lincoln High in San Jose.

"A week before school was out, I got an e-mail from the principal saying there was no summer school at all," says Arcelia Martinez, Samantha's mother.

The school counselor told Samantha to go to San Jose City College to take the English and math classes she needs, but when she got here, she found a long line and bad news.

"The math class is full, let me see what the waitlist looks like for you," says a counselor to Samantha.

All this week, student after student heard the same news.

"The waiting lists are full for every class I am trying to take, so I just have to show up the first day and hope they put me in," says high school junior James McClain.

Many Santa Clara County school districts have cut back or eliminated summer school. So a lot of high school students who need classes to graduate are trying to enroll in community college for the summer.

"We did not expect the big surge we are seeing now. It's happened pretty much in the last few days," says San Jose City College president Michael Burke.

San Jose City College officials say they've seen about three times the normal number of high school students applying for summer school, but there's no money to add classes.

"On the screens here they say there's like 50 people on the waitlist for each course," says high school senior Amanda Purcell.

Many community colleges were already expecting more students because of cuts at state universities. And now the onslaught of high school kids is making it even tougher to get everyone the classes they need.

"This is a perfect storm unfortunately. With limited access there will be limited opportunity for students to get the skills they need to enter the work force," says Burke.

"I really need my credits," says James.

Classes start Monday and many kids are just crossing their fingers, hoping a spot will open up.

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