By MIKE WILLIAMS
A dual enrollment academy got the go-ahead for further planning from the Pulaski County School Board this week.
Known for now as the Cougar Scholar Program, the program represents the school division’s plans for addressing Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s call for increasing dual enrollment credits offered in Virginia high schools.
The plan focuses on creating a master schedule that will maximize opportunities for students interested in taking dual enrollment classes while at Pulaski County High School, rolling out a recruitment and application process, and having the overall goal of increasing the number of graduates who obtain an associate’s degree while in high school.
The program would be a collaborative effort with New River Community College, and would offer PCHS juniors and seniors the opportunity to earn all college credit hours needed for an associate’s degree.
Pulaski County High School currently offers ten dual enrollment courses with NRCC. The Cougar Scholar Program would expand and restructure the dual enrollment offerings so the high school would be able to offer 77 transferable college credits, including 55 of the required 61 credits needed for a General Studies AA&S (Associates of Arts & Sciences) degree.
The program will provide families huge savings in terms of money spent for an Associates degree.
According to Monday’s presentation on the program, it was noted that an Associates degree at NRCC costs roughly $9,550.
Students in the Cougar Scholar Program will complete 90 percent of required courses at PCHS at no charge, with only six credit hours needing to be completed through NRCC at the cost of only $939 – saving families nearly $10,000.
If the plan is approved, students in AP and Honors classes will be made aware of the program and receive a brochure about it. Information on it will be added to the course catalog, and there would be targeted calls, Facebook postings and other announcements to make students aware.
An application will be developed that stresses the rigorous courseload through the program. The applications of students applying for the program will be reviewed by a committee of counselors, school board office staff, administrators and department chairs.
A rubric will be developed to guide admission decisions.
Once a student is accepted into the program, a meeting will be held with the student and their parents concerning selected courses, program expectations and to make sure students in the program are prepared for what’s next.
School Superintendent Dr. Kevin Siers told the School Board that staff had worked hundreds of hours to put together the dual enrollment program.
Planning for the program will now continue with the School Board’s blessing.