After much consternation about where city high school students would attend summer classes this year, Baltimore school officials announced yesterday that they will hold the makeup courses at city school buildings, backing off from a plan to send failing students to sessions at Baltimore City Community College.
The change was made after the college's president -- who initially made the offer to city school officials -- suddenly resigned last month, and other college officials questioned whether they could follow through on his commitment.
Summer makeup courses -- to cost students $150 each -- will be held at Frederick Douglass, Lake Clifton/Eastern and Harbor City high schools. Students who need to retake Maryland Functional tests will report to Patterson High School.
School officials said the community college did not have enough space to house the approximately 1,600 students who need to make up classes over the summer or who need tutoring to pass one or more of the Maryland Functional Tests required for graduation.
The college also would not have been prepared to accept the city school students by the July 13 summer school starting date, said Frank DeStefano, the city system's director of high schools.
"It was really about timing more than anything else. If this transition had happened earlier, I know it would have been great," DeStefano said, referring to moving summer school to the community college. "That team over there [at BCCC] was really working hard to work with us."
Officials at the community college said they were surprised last month to learn that college President Sylvester E. McKay, who resigned last month, had entered into an agreement with the city school system to provide summer courses. But they said they did everything they could to make the partnership work.
The community college and the city schools had come to an agreement several weeks ago, but "obviously, it wasn't as final as everyone thought," said John Parham, BCCC's director of human resources.
"We made them an offer of assistance, but they rejected our offer of assistance," Parham said. "They believe they can have school in a more effective manner."
The plan to conduct high school summer makeup classes at the community college was tenuous from the beginning.
McKay approached the city schools about a partnership in December, DeStefano said. After he resigned, top-ranking community college officials seemed to know little about the plan.
Patricia L. Welch, chairwoman of the city school board, said McKay's vision for summer school had "not been fully endorsed" by the college's board.
Many meetings later, city school officials decided it would be best for them to take on the summer responsibilities.
"It was just easier and more efficient to use a plan we had already in place," DeStefano said.
Summer school teachers will be hired by today from a pool of city teachers who applied several weeks ago, DeStefano said. They will be paid $30 an hour.
City school officials had said at the end of April that the system could no longer afford to handle summer school the way it had in the past. In the past few years, tens of thousands of students in all grades attended remedial summer classes in city school buildings.
Younger children are being encouraged to participate in "summer learning opportunities" offered by other organizations and agencies.
DeStefano said saving money was not the motivation for seeking BCCC's help.
"My belief was it allowed our kids to get a vision of college," he said. "By putting it on the college campuses, they could see that even though they had to go to summer school, college was still in their grasp."
Pre-registration for the summer classes began Wednesday and ends today at students' home schools. Final registration will be conducted 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 7-9 at the summer school locations.
Sun staff writer Jason Song contributed to this article.