County high schoolers now have access to transportation for dual enrollment

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 22, 2017

Students in the Covington County School system now have equal access to a potentially life-changing educational opportunity. Covington County Schools Career Tech Coordinator Chris Thomasson said Wednesday that for years, they have had students going to the McArthur Campus to take advantage of a federal grant for free dual enrollment education, but there has been a situation where only students who had the means to provide their own transportation to the college and back to the high school were able to benefit from the grant and technical programs.

“This is a tremendous opportunity and some haven’t been able to take advantage,” he said. “I got involved, when my son wanted to pursue industrial electronics.”

Through a year’s worth of brainstorming and working through logistics, LBWCC and Covington County Schools officials have come up with a solution.

The county0 schools have allocated funding for bus transportation from all four county high schools – Straughn, Pleasant Home, Florala and Red Level – and the college has altered start times for the dual enrollment students to make it possible to provide bus transportation.

“The programs are available for everyone in grades 10 through 12,” Thomasson said. “One of our biggest problems was the time classes started and obtaining funding for the transportation.”

Thomasson said Covington County Schools Superintendent Shannon Driver and the Covington County Board of Education were on board. He also said that Peggy Linton, dean of instruction and campus director; Debra Hudson, administrative assistant for instructional services; and Tony Newton, industrial electronics instructor, played integral roles in making sure this opportunity came to fruition.

Thomasson said that classes will start at 8:15 a.m., instead of the traditional start time.

Students will report to school at normal time and then leave from there.

“They will spend 75 minutes at McArthur, including class and lab time,” he said. “They will take one regular class through ACCESS or Plato. They will miss two classes, but one will be an enrichment class and the other one they will take online.”

The opportunities are endless.

Students who take advantage of the program beginning in the 10th grade can graduate from high school and in their field of choice simultaneously, he said.

Thomasson said students can start the program as a junior or senior as well, they will just have classes left to take upon graduation.

For fall semester, they will offer air conditioning and refrigeration, automotive mechanics, computer science, diesel mechanics, industrial electronics, medical and office administration and welding.

“A lot of these are jobs you can get certifications for,” he said. These are high-wage jobs as well.

According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook 2016-2017, median hourly earnings of heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics, and installers are $22.07.

Median hourly earnings of automotive service technicians and mechanics in 2016 was $18.50. The top 10 percent earned more than $64,070. – See more at:

Computer science workers with an associate degree can make from $41,800 per year to $68,400.

For diesel mechanics program, median hourly earnings of bus and truck mechanics and diesel engine specialists, including incentive pay, are $21.72. The top 10 percent of earned more than $67,550.

The median hourly earnings of electronic repairers of commercial and industrial equipment were $26.89 in 2016.

Executive secretaries and administrative assistants median annual salary for 2016 was $35,060. These are jobs students can get with their medical and office administration education.

The 2016 median hourly earnings for welders and cutters were $18.94.

“Our whole reason for doing it was to reach those kids who don’t think there is anything in this area for them. We are going to do what we can to help provide opportunities for them.”

“Our dual enrollment students are very important to us. We really value the partnership we have with our local school districts and appreciate their support in this effort,” said Dr. Herb Riedel, LBWCC president. “The career technical programs at LBW offer very good opportunities for dual enrollment students to get a head start on their careers and further their education.”

Thomasson said that this is one of the most exciting things he’s been involved in.

Students who are interested in participating need to contact their high school principal or guidance counselor as soon as possible.

“The schools need to know who is interested in order to make the schedules,” he said.

Call SHS at 222-2511; PHS at 222-1315; RLHS at 469-5315; or FHS at 858-3765.