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City to hold more fairs to attract school dropouts

The Baltimore Sun

Two resource fairs to re-enroll high school dropouts had such high turnouts that the Baltimore school system plans to hold six more this month.

The earlier fairs attracted nearly 200 participants, 146 of whom made commitments to continue with their education.

A total of 198 dropouts have re-enrolled since city schools chief Andres Alonso ordered Baltimore's high schools last month to reach out to students who left during 2008. Community activists were hired to help with making phone calls and home visits.

"We're going after the kids," Alonso said. "We can't wait for them."

Of the 925 dropouts since the year began, about 400 have not been located because their phone numbers or addresses on record are outdated. Officials say efforts to reach dropouts will continue.

Of those who have been contacted, more than a third re-enrolled. The majority of these 198 students, 123, are returning to city high schools; the others have enrolled in alternative and GED programs.

Jonathan Brice, the system's executive director of student support, said his staff is finding that about half the students returning dropped out because they had a negative experience at their high schools and they now want to go somewhere else. The other half dropped out because of life circumstances, be it having a baby or needing to work full time.

With more response to the resource fairs than anticipated, officials made plans for six more to be held in neighborhoods around the city. Alonso said the events will continue until demand dries up.

At the fairs, system administrators look up students' transcripts and talk to them about the options for continuing with their education. The students then can meet with representatives of various alternative and GED programs, and social service agencies, and get caught up on any needed immunizations.

The fairs will be held: Wednesday at Patterson High School, 100 Kane St.; Thursday at Northeast Middle School, 5001 Moravia Road; Oct. 15 at Northwestern High School, 6900 Park Heights Ave.; Oct. 18 at Success Academy, 200 E. North Ave.; Oct. 22 at Southside Academy, 2700 Seamon Ave.; and Oct. 23 at Edmondson-Westside High School, 501 Athol Ave.

All fairs will be held from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. except the one at Success Academy, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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