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Commissioners resolve to support new five year school

By Staff
Community college will need $275,000 building in future
By DAN PARSONS
Staff Writer
A proposed five-year high school in Beaufort County gained the support of the county’s commissioners Monday morning during a joint meeting with the Beaufort County Community College Board of Trustees.
But the resolution to support planning efforts to establish the new school was not passed without concerns from commissioners, especially over a $275,000 building to house college classes displaced by the new school.
Though space for 200 students could be found in existing college buildings, the Early College High School is required to be located on a community college campus, according to Superintendent Jeff Moss.
In fact, the new high school would be housed in an existing building — the east wing of Building 10 at the community college. The program was started in 2004 by Gov. Mike Easley, with the goal of providing first-generation college students with access to higher education through a non-traditional high school environment. After several visits to similar schools in other counties, Moss said the smaller class sizes and unique curriculum will offer “new avenues to educate our students for today’s society.”
Students attend the school for five years instead of the traditional four, then graduate with a high school diploma and either an Associates Degree or two years of transferable college credit. During the first three years at the new school, students would attend the majority of their classes in Building 10. In the fourth and fifth year, they would take classes at the community college and spend little time in the high school setting at Building 10, according to community college President David McLawhorn.
Classrooms in that building are currently used by emergency medical services and law-enforcement training classes. During the first year of operation, the new high school will occupy half the wing with the training classes being held in the other. If established, the school will begin with a freshman class of about 60 students in August, adding a class each year until it reaches the maximum of about 200 students.
As the new high school swells, the public safety classes will be pushed out of Building 10 into the new metal building. Early College students will spread into all eight classrooms in the wing as new freshmen classes are added each year.
In late 2007, the top attorney for the N.C. Community College System, handed down a decision that system wide policy required the admission of illegal aliens to the colleges so long as they pay higher, out-of-state tuition rates. Commissioner Stan Deatherage, who has helped spearhead a local initiative to deny illegal aliens county-subsidized benefits, said he would oppose the new school if illegal immigrants were admitted.
McLawhorn simply said “no.”
Commissioner Robert Cayton, also a member of the community college board of trustees and member of the Early College High School planning committee, moved that the board approve a resolution to support the new school.
Richardson proposed amending the motion to state that “no county dollars would go to the education of illegal immigrants” in the new school. The amendment failed before the resolution passed four to two with Richardson and Deatherage voting against.