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Paynesville Press - January 16, 2002

PAHS to add college credit class

By Michael Jacobson

Juniors and seniors will have the opportunity to earn college credit while taking English at Paynesville Area High School next year.

On Tuesday, Jan. 8, the school board unanimously approved a proposal by the high school English department to add a college credit component to Honors English. The class - offered to juniors and seniors - will feature college credit through a program at Southwest State University in Marshall.

The plan is to offer four semester credits in the Fundamentals of College Writing in conjunction with Honors English next fall. Another college-credit writing class would be included in the Honors English curriculum the following year, giving students the opportunity to earn seven college credits in English over two years.

These credits should transfer to virtually any college in the state.

Students will have the option of taking Honors English for just high school credit, or for both high school and college credit. Simultaneously adjusting the course requirements for both type of credit means extra work for the teachers. Honors English also includes a literature component and two graduation standards.

The English department brought this proposal to the school board in December, but the decision was tabled until three new board members - Mark Dingmann, Allen Schmidt, and Tami Stanger - took office in January. Board members all reported getting positive feedback about the college-credit course option, with the only negative being that more should be offered.

"We all know we're going to have to do budget cuts," said board chair Pat Flanders. "It's one proactive move that we can do."

The cost of college credit offerings will have to be picked up by the school district. Since the class is part of the curriculum, the district cannot charge students for the tuition cost ($50 per credit hour, with a maximum of $1,800 per class) or the start-up costs for books, superintendent Howard Caldwell told the board in December.

The hope is that college-credit offerings at the high school will keep students from opting for post-secondary enrollment.

Based on the state's foundation aid, a high school student is worth over $5,000 per year in revenue to the district. In 1999-00, the high school had three students pursue post-secondary options. In 2000-01, it lost the equivalent of four students. In 2001-02, it may lose six students for the second semester, an equivalent of three students for the full year.

Southwest State also has college credit classes in mathematics, science, foreign languages, and social science.

High school juniors and seniors will have the opportunity to sign up for Honors English and for the new college credit option during registration on Thursday, Feb. 7, and Friday, Feb. 8.

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