Dual-enrollment option in peril|Proposal could harm programs that benefit high-school students

Published 9:33 am Wednesday, July 29, 2009

By Staff
Staff Reports
Area high-school students who planned to take courses at Beaufort County Community College may not have that option in the near future.
More than 250 students in Beaufort County’s public schools, private schools and home schools who have enrolled in BCCC classes could be affected by the proposed legislation.
The proposed legislation to eliminate funding for some of these courses at North Carolina’s 58 community colleges is among several cuts suggested by state lawmakers as one way to help close a $4.5 billion funding gap in the state budget. The reductions would combine to save about $14.6 million, state lawmakers have said.
The college plans to notify those students that a state-budget proposal calls for eliminating most of the funding for the dual-enrollment program. The proposal is in the state House of Representatives.
Four courses — in English, history, music and psychology — scheduled to be offered to high-school students in Beaufort County by BCCC would be affected by the proposed cuts in funding, Patrick Abele, assistant superintendent of Beaufort County Schools, told the Beaufort County Board of Education on Monday night.
Less than 25 public-school students in Beaufort County have registered to take these classes. And the county’s high-school principals are developing plans to help these students cope with the change, if it occurs, he said.
“We have asked the principals to begin developing a list and finding alternatives,” he said. “What we did not want to do was put fear into these students.”
Among the alternatives available to them are for students to schedule a course offered at their respective high schools, enroll in an eligible course at BCCC or enroll in a distance-education course via the Internet through the University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s I-Program, he said.
“If the proposal is approved, high school students will not be able to enroll in general education courses with the exception of math and science courses and some technical and vocational courses, through the Huskins Bill and dual-enrollment programs,” reads a BCCC news release.
The Huskins Bill is named for the Iredell County legislator who was at the forefront of the effort to allow high-school students to take such courses offered as a result of an agreement between a community college and local school system. Students receive college credits if they successfully complete the courses, which they also may do by participating in a dual-enrollment program. In a dual-enrollment program, a student takes a course alongside traditional community-college students. Under this program, a student age 16 and older may enroll in a college course with the permission of his or her high-school principal.
The dual-enrollment program allows the state’s community colleges to offer technical training and college-transfer courses to high-school students without tuition charge.
This change would affect many of the college-transfer courses broadcast from BCCC via the N.C. Information Highway to high schools in Beaufort, Hyde and Tyrrell counties through the Beaufort College Academy, said Wesley Beddard, dean of instruction at BCCC.
Beddard said the Beaufort County Early College High School would not be affected by the cuts. Other early college high schools in BCCC’s four-county service area that provide classes through BCCC also would not be affected, he said.
“This uncertainty makes if very difficult for the college and the students enrolled in these courses to adequately plan for the coming academic year,” Beddard said in the release. “The proposed budget cuts and elimination of funding for some college courses may require a large number of high school students to change their plans at the last minute.
“The faculty and staff at BCCC are willing to work with high school students enrolled in these courses to explore possible options from any final list of approved courses that will help these students reach their educational goals.”
Beddard said the proposal to reduce funding for these classes has gone unchanged during budget negotiations since June. So, he said, college officials believe the cuts will be part of the budget when it is adopted.
BCCC officials said they will not know what specific courses will be affected until the final budget is approved by the General Assembly.
Indications are that Huskins Bill and dual-enrollment students will not be allowed to enroll in anthropology, art, communications, drama and theater, economics, English, history, humanities, music, political science, psychology, religion, sociology and Spanish courses at community colleges, Beddard said.
It appears those students will be allowed to enroll in courses such as accounting, automotive, biology, business, chemistry, criminal justice, cosmetology, electrical, electronics, mathematics, marketing, office systems and welding, as well as a variety of computer and networking courses.
Students enrolled in Huskins Bill or dual-enrollment classes at BCCC are asked to contact Wesley Beddard at 252-940-6226 or Crystal Ange, dean of student services, at 252-940-6216 from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays with questions regarding the status of their classes.