Support Missing?

Part of the Warren County School District’s discussion about class rank has focused on what to do with dual enrollment offerings.

In a nutshell, the district has agreements in place with several regional colleges and universities to allow students to earn college credit while still in high school. Some of the dual enrollment options are offered in district buildings with district teachers while others are taught by the faculty of the institution or offered online.

Bob Crowley, a representative from the St. Bonaventure University dual enrollment program advisory committee, addressed the school board’s Curriculum, Instruction and Technology Committee last Monday night.

Crowley said that the St. Bonaventure program has an outstanding return rate with 73 of 75 student eligible for a second year in the program. He said that the students enjoy the program and see the financial benefit.

A letter from the advisory committee submitted to the board, and provided to the Times Observer, alleges that “these students continue even though they have been subject to pressure by other students and faculty to not attend.”

“This year we have 23 students in the program and all of them are on scholarships,” Crowley explained. He acknowledged that he has heard concerns about the program being affordable to only those with higher incomes but he noted that six of the students in this year’s class pay nothing except the cost of books and eight of 22 did not pay last year.

But declining enrollment, according to Crowley, is threatening the program’s existence. “There is concern on Bonaventure’s part that we might not have the program,” he said, indicating that the “threshold” for sustaining the program is “in the area of 20.”

“Our enrollment suffered because of the uncertainty about GPA, and will continue to do so unless the program receives equitable treatment to other dual enrollment and AP offerings within the district,” the letter stated. The committee forwarded a class rank proposal to the full board that includes weight for all dual enrollment offerings.

The letter continues, “St. Bonaventure is very concerned about this apparent lack of support and will most assuredly reconsider whether the program should continue if enrollment continues to decline.”

But marketing the program is not the school district’s responsibility. Superintendent Dr. William Clark explained on Friday that advertising posters placed in district buildings for dual enrollment programs are provided by the institution of higher learning, not the district.

However, he did say that if a student expresses interest about pursuing a dual enrollment option, district staff will review available options with that student.

The district also has dual enrollment agreements in place with Penn College, Clarion, Pitt-Bradford, Jamestown Community College and Gannon University.

“We have a very strong record of supporting kids advancing themselves,” school board member John Grant said.

District Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Gary Weber noted that the district also has AP offerings and offerings through the virtual academy.

“There are a lot of opportunities that kids receive outside of the traditional classroom in the Warren County School District,” he said.