• September 17, 2019

Should OCHS pay for part of college course? - Ocean City Sentinel: News

Should OCHS pay for part of college course?

Upper member says only some benefit from policy

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Posted: Wednesday, August 21, 2019 11:22 am

OCEAN CITY — Should the Ocean City School District pay partial tuition for some students to take dual-credit classes at a community college?

During an Ocean City Board of Education meeting Wednesday, Aug. 7, school board members discussed a longtime practice of paying partial tuition to take classes at Atlantic Cape Community College, where students earn high school and college credits for the classes. 

During the meeting, the school board approved several classes students could take at Atlantic Cape. The program has been in place in the school district for many years. 

The school board approved the following courses for the program: financial accounting; introduction to business; introduction to college chemistry; introduction to criminal justice; computer programming Java; macroeconomics; microeconomics; composition I; elementary French I; elementary French II; precalculus; elementary Spanish I; and elementary Spanish II. 

Students earn three or four college credits, depending on the class. 

Atlantic Cape charges $59.30 per credit. Ocean City High School contributes $23 per credit and students are responsible for the remaining costs. The program is open to any student.

According to the Atlantic Cape website, a student taking one three-credit course can usually expect to pay $553.80, in addition to possible lab and insurance fees. 

During the meeting, school board member Fran Newman questioned why the school district was paying for part of the tuition costs. 

While she said she supports the school providing students an opportunity to get college credits, she said she was unsure why they were paying when other school districts do not. 

She said some local school districts, including Mainland Regional High School, Middle Township High School and the Greater Egg Harbor Regional High School District, do not contribute to tuition, although she said they do help with Advanced Placement classes. 

“The only reason I’m concerned about it is when we’re helping students get college credit, only a select group of students get money for college,” she said. 

Newman, one of the Upper Township representatives on the board, said she was not comfortable paying district money for college credits and that they could do other things with the funding, such as lowering tuition rates for sending districts or other programs with the school. 

The Upper Township School District has a sending-receiving agreement with the school district and pays tuition for its students to attend Ocean City High School. 

“Assisting our students to pay for college credit is helping the parents, which as a parent, I would love, but if my kids did not go to ACCC to take these dual-credit classes then I’m not benefitting from it,” she said. 

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2016, 41 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds were enrolled in a degree-granting postsecondary institution. 

During the 2018-19 academic year, average tuition and fee costs were $35,830 at a private, nonprofit four-year college; $10,230 at a public four-year college; and $3,660 at an average public two-year college, according to statistics from the College Board. 

Information from the Institute for College Access & Success stated about two-thirds of college seniors who graduated in 2017 from public and private nonprofit colleges had student loan debt. 

They graduated with about $28,650 in debt on average. 

“I totally understand and I can answer that just by saying that’s the agreement that we came to and I will take that into consideration and thank you for your comments,” school board Vice President Jacqueline McAlister said. 

School board member Dale Braun asked about the total budget for the program. 

Tim Kelley, the school board administrator, estimated that during the last school year it was about $7,000. 

Kathleen Taylor, district superintendent, said the payment has been a “long, long-standing practice,” and said it has been in place since before she became superintendent. 

Taylor has served as superintendent for 14 years. During that time, the amount the school board contributed has always been $23 per credit, she said. 

The student is responsible for the remaining costs, including tuition increases. 

School board member Tiffany Prettyman said other districts are changing policies and “paying more for students and allowing them more opportunities.”

The Ocean City School District is working on a new concurrent enrollment program with Atlantic Cape. Under the program, students can take college courses at Atlantic Cape while attending high school and could potentially graduate from high school with an associate degree.  The cost for those classes would be the responsibility of the student, according to Taylor. 

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