Dual-enrollment cuts grieve BCCC, students

Published 5:16 am Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Special to the Daily News

Beaufort County Community College is facing the same dual-enrollment program funding cuts in its general-education courses as it faced last year.
Funding for general math and science courses will be kept in place. Classes that fulfill a general history or a general English requirement still are not being offered.
Two options for North Carolina community-college students trying to use the dual-enrollment programs are the Learn and Earn Online and the Early College High School programs. However, the Learn and Earn Online program is subject to the same elimination of funding this year as the general-education courses in the dual-enrollment programs. BCCC does not participate in this program.
Wesley Beddard, BCCC’s dean of instruction, addressed the situation in an e-mail last week.
“This year we were expecting the new rules, had ample notification, and were able to inform students early on in the planning process. Last year we had many high school students, including home schooled, students at public schools and students from the private schools, who were planning to take classes with us who had to change plans in August. So they were disappointed and frustrated, as were we at the college,” Beddard wrote.
One hundred and ninety-four students were in dual-enrollment programs at BCCC during the spring semester of 2009. Fifty-four students were in dual-enrollment programs this spring semester.
Kim Barr is a member of the board of directors for The Eastern Association of Christian Schools. Her group draws students from across eastern North Carolina. The group includes close to 80 families and 200 students.
Barr noted that her older daughter, Michele, was able to use the program to her advantage several years ago. She used dual-enrollment courses to become a registered nurse. at the age of 20, at the East Carolina Heart Institute in Greenville.
These days, Barr explained, other people are struggling to have that same opportunity.
“The removal of the dual-enrollment option last year had a negative impact on our students. We were able to find a Spanish teacher, but it was at an expense. Now, the cost of getting the necessary classes has tripled for our students,” she said.
Barr’s group has contacted state Rep. Arthur Williams, a Democrat who represents Beaufort County and part of Pitt County, and state Sen. Marc Basnight, a Democrat from Dare County whose Senate district includes Beaufort County, to express their concern about the cuts. Basnight is president pro tempore of the state Senate.
Barr described the cuts as detrimental to the area.
“It is frustrating to see tax dollars to go to athletes when it should go local communities. When high-school students are able to earn college credit, it is very valuable. When our politicians run on education, it should be affordable (education),” she said.
Barr is working with her younger daughter to get her into a computer class when registration opens at BCCC on Aug. 16.
Marcie Morgan, headmaster at Pungo Christian Academy, said that out of 18 juniors and seniors, eight are trying to use dual-enrollment programs during the upcoming school year. The school has been involved with the programs for 10 years.
“It is something we could not get involved with last year because of budget cuts. But we are trying to get involved again this year. We mostly have students looking at the computer science and algebra classes.” Morgan said.