Olentangy Valley News

Changes coming for district's college-level courses

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A new statewide policy that aims at getting more high school students enrolled in college-level courses will be in place by the 2015-16 school year.

Tom Ash, director of governmental relations for the Buckeye Association of School Administrators, explained the changes to the Olentangy school board at a recent meeting.

Earlier this year, the Ohio legislature approved a set of policies known as College Credit Plus for high schools and universities. After the new policies become effective, dual-enrollment and post-secondary programs currently in place at Ohio high schools will cease to exist.

"All of those programs will be replaced by College Credit Plus," Ash said.

All public colleges and universities also will be required to participate in the program unless they acquire a waiver. The state has not yet announced how or why a college could get such a waiver.

Private colleges also can participate in the program.

"To us, it seems there is an assumption that Olentangy will invite participation from all public colleges with campuses within 30 miles of any one of your high schools," Ash said.

Public high school students cannot be charged for tuition or textbooks when they take College Credit Plus classes at public colleges or universities.

According to the Ohio Board of Regents, districts will pay for the program through foundation funding it receives from the state.

Under the program, districts can negotiate the costs for tuition, textbooks and other fees with colleges and universities.

"I think that's one thing that's going to enter into a five-year forecast for the year after next depending upon what rates you're able to negotiate," Ash told Olentangy board members.

If a district fails to negotiate agreements with a public institution of higher learning, it will automatically pay:

* $160 per semester hour for a course taught by a college faculty member on the college campus.

* $80 per semester hour for a course taught by a college faculty member at the high school.

* $40 per semester hour for a course taught by an approved high school teacher at the high school.

"I would emphasize that that high school faculty member has to meet the requirements of the public college," Ash said.

Those default costs will be higher at private colleges and universities if agreements are not reached. However, students attending College Credit Plus classes at private colleges can be charged fees if no agreement is in place.

The program will be open to students throughout the state starting in sixth grade, as long as they meet admission requirements. Previous post-secondary programs generally were available starting in eighth grade.

Districts also will be required to advertise College Credit Plus on their websites and hold at least one meeting for parents on the topic.

Ash said students will be required to notify their school principal of their intent to participate in College Credit Plus by April 1 in order to give the district time to budget properly.

Districts will be allowed to seek reimbursement from students who fail a College Credit Plus course unless the student is economically disadvantaged.

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