January 20, 2020 -
By Caitlyn French | firstname.lastname@example.org
BAY CITY, MI - A new education program aims to give high school students in Bay and Arenac counties a low-cost option to attend college or receive job training.
School districts in Bay and Arenac counties are partnering to form a CTE Early Middle College Program. In a nutshell, the program would allow students to add a 13th year of schooling, or a 5th year of high school, onto their academic careers with their school district to obtain post-secondary credentials.
Early Middle College programs are allowed through the Michigan Department of Education and an exception is made to allow students to add a fifth year of schooling.
The Bay-Arenac ISD Career Center would house the program. The center currently allows students to get college credit before attending a school like Delta College or Davenport. The CTE Early Middle College Program would expand upon what is currently offered.
"What we’re looking to do is expand that opportunity for students so they can take it one step further and actually get a post-secondary credential,” said Doug Trombley, assistant director of instructional services for Bay-Arenac ISD.
Trombley said the cost for earning these credentials, which can range from certificates to associate degrees, is billed to the district, not the students. The district gets the full-time equivalent funding of $8,111 per student from the state to cover the cost, he said.
The hope with this program is that it will alleviate the financial strain associated with college and to promote college attendance in first generation and economically disadvantaged students. The program also allows for students to receive extra support through the process.
“This provides that opportunity, especially for those first generation students that may not have the guidance to enroll in a college and attend. So, because of the fact that they’re attending a college while they’re still in high school, they’re receiving an abundance of support to make that happen,” said Trombley.
Freshmen and sophomores interested in the program from Bay and Arenac county districts begin their high-school careers like regular students; they take the general requirements of the Michigan Merit Curriculum.
Junior year students spend half of their school-days at their home high school and the other half pursuing their vocational classes at the career center. Senior year students then continue to take career center classes to earn credit in the process for preparation of their 13th year.
Students in their 13th year will finish the required courses needed for both their high school diploma and their chosen post-secondary credentials.
“If you think of being able to walk out with a high school diploma and a post secondary credential at the same time, you’re a long ways towards a profitable life," said Trombley.
The programs offered are focused around fields in demand in this area and state, according to Trombley. The planned programs for this pathway are automotive, building trades, computer information systems, networking technology, and the opportunity for a general associate degree.
"Skilled trades as a whole and STEM related fields as a whole are in high demand,” he said. "We’re trying to address that need by providing these opportunities.”
The program is still in the early stages and the application is currently in the works to the Michigan Department of Education to make it official. The application is due to the state by Feb. 3. Once approved by the Department of Education and both Bay and Arenac county school boards, the program is expected to begin during the 2020-2021 school year in the fall.