Working toward a degree at Columbus State will be as easy as walking to the west wing of BELL Academy for many Reynoldsburg High School students.

Working toward a degree at Columbus State will be as easy as walking to the west wing of BELL Academy for many Reynoldsburg High School students.

The district has been renovating 15 classrooms at BELL Academy for a Columbus State Regional Learning Center that will open for Reynoldsburg students this fall.

The Learning Center will open to all students in January.

Superintendent Steve Dackin said Reynoldsburg students will be able to work simultaneously on earning a high school diploma and a two-year associate degree from Columbus State.

"We are excited about this relationship with Columbus State Community College," Dackin said at the school board meeting on Aug. 21. "Our students will be able to earn a two-year college degree at just $25 a credit hour."

Board members approved a memorandum of understanding with Columbus State and a facility and shared services agreement at the school board meeting.

The district agreed in March to spend $1.2 million of available bond money to remodel a 22,000-square-foot space that includes 15 classrooms on the west side of BELL (Business, Education, Leadership and Law) Academy on the Livingston campus.

Also in March, Columbus State Community College (CSCC) agreed to invest about $1.4 million to equip the classrooms and provide instruction.

Tricia Moore, district coordinator of community outreach, said students from neighboring communities might also enroll in courses at the learning center, but not with the same discount on credit hours that Reynoldsburg students will receive.

She said all of the Columbus State learning center courses would transfer to a four-year institution.

Open enrollment

In other board business last week, Dackin updated school board members on the open enrollment program.

"We had 196 requests for open enrollment and accepted 144 students," he said. "The students came from all over and some were from private schools.

"I think people are interested in the products at Reynoldsburg schools," he said.

Board member Ryan Brzezinski asked Dackin why so many students were accepted, since only 138 applications had been received by the June 7 deadline.

"We received more applications in early July," Dackin said. "A lot of kids were placed on a waiting list."

"We set a deadline in June, so we should not have accepted applications after the deadline," Brzezinski said.

Dackin said the district policy guidelines permit a wait list for students.

Board members approved the open enrollment policy on May 15, which allows students from other school districts to enroll in Reynoldsburg schools. The district became only the second district in Franklin County to allow interdistrict transfers. Columbus City Schools have allowed open enrollment since 1998.

Brzezinski said in May that he was "initially opposed" to open enrollment.

"Unfortunately," he added, " it may be open enrollment or another levy."

School district residents approved a 6.9-mill incremental operating levy in 2010.

Treasurer Tammy Miller said in June that the 138 open enrollment applications could generate as much as $786,000 for the district, because state dollars follow the students, at $5,700 each.