NEW ALBANY – Starting next school year, New Albany Schools will pick up the tab for its dual enrollment program that lets high school students earn college credit without leaving campus.
“With the advent of the tuition-free program … our students and parents have begun to question whether it’s wise to pay for college credit courses during the senior year, or simply wait to take those classes after high school graduation on a tuition-free basis,” said New Albany schools’ Superintendent Chuck Garrett.
Several community colleges, including Northeast, participate in tuition-free programs in which students’ costs are covered as long as they meet certain criteria.
Earlier this month, the New Albany School Board approved agreements with Northeast Mississippi Community College and Blue Mountain College to pick up the costs of providing college credit classes at New Albany High School to make sure they have enough students to keep offering the courses.
“We feel like it’s really helped make the senior year a strong enriching academic experience,” Garrett said.
Currently, New Albany offers English Composition I and II through Northeast, with a masters-level New Albany teacher who has been approved as a college instructor, and calculus through Blue Mountain College, which sends a teacher to the high school three days a week.
It would have cost about $9,000 to provide the English Comp and calculus classes this year for 43 students; Garrett recommended the board budget $15,000 for 2009-2010.
The dual enrollment courses are similar to advanced placement, but students don’t have to pass a test to earn the college credit, Garrett said.
“If they make an A, B or C, they get the credit,” Garrett said.
Beyond the college credit, the courses help students adjust to the speed and demands of college course work, said Blue Mountain College President Bettye Coward.
“It’s a wonderful bridge to the schedule of college courses,” Coward said.
Currently New Albany High School students who take English composition I and II pay $315 to Northeast per semester course; the Blue Mountain College calculus course costs $375.
Northeast has similar programs with Booneville and Corinth schools, where their students go to Northeast campuses and get both high school and college credit, said Larry Nabors, Northeast executive vice president. New Albany is the first school district to cover the costs.
Next year, all dual enrollment students will be able to take classes for $157 per course up to 12 hours of credit on Northeast’s campuses, Nabors said.
Michaela Morris/Daily Journal