North Augusta High School's summer school attendance dropped by 50 percent for the first session, according to Principal Collette Johnson. Last year's summer I session had more than 200 students; this year's had barely 100. Summer II dropped from about 80 students to 51 this year.
As a result, about half the classes, including some in English and math, were not offered.
"We just didn't have enough enroll to continue the classes," she said. "It was disheartening for the kids."
Ms. Johnson and Aiken High School summer program Principal Bruce West worked together to combine classes and make sure students got the credits they needed to move on to the next grade.
About half a dozen North Augusta students drove to Aiken each day to get the classes they needed.
In some cases, Mr. West said, a different math or science course from the one originally intended was taken, but the student got credit.
"If we're going on the courses offered based on original enrollment, then yes, we're down, but students didn't drop out of summer school because they didn't have a class," Mr. West said.
Aiken High's two summer sessions had total enrollment of about 350.
Ms. Johnson said she believes economics played a major role in families opting out of the program, but several families said summer school didn't fit into their schedules for one reason or another. Mr. West said he didn't have any students say they couldn't take classes because of cost. One course cost $275.
Students could have also opted for online classes through the South Carolina Virtual School.
Because those courses aren't complete, guidance counselors and administrators won't know who took them until near the beginning of the school year, when scores are sent in.
"It's not as cut and dry as it should be," Mr. West said of the process.
When registration for the coming school year begins, guidance counselors will meet with students to make sure they are still on track for graduation, regardless of whether they were in summer school.
Students who earned a 61 or higher in a course will also have the option of credit recovery, a self-paced course similar to the state Virtual Schools option, except that a student has a class monitor and teacher on hand instead of relying on a virtual teacher or monitor.
"We wouldn't advise them to double up, but instead of taking a study hall, take what they missed," Ms. Johnson said.
Reach Julia Sellers at (706) 823-3424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.