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Council funds landmark ACS/LBW initiative for AHS students

The Andalusia City Council on Tuesday agreed to provide funding for an Andalusia City Schools/LBW Community College initiative designed to give Andalusia High School students a head start for college.

Effective in the current academic year, Andalusia City Schools will cover the cost of one dual enrollment class per semester for high school seniors. If funding is still available after all interested seniors have enrolled, the program is open high school juniors and sophomores.

Dual enrollment classes allow high school students to simultaneously earn high school and college credits, and ease the transition from high school to college. High school sophomores, juniors and seniors with at least a “B” average are eligible for dual enrollment in both academic and technical programs. But while the state funds the technical classes for high school students, until the city agreed to fund this program, parents had to pay tuition for academic classes.

The council agreed to provide up to $100,000 for tuition, which would cover two academic classes per year for about 100 students.

At least one academic dual enrollment class will be taught on the AHS campus each semester, Superintendent Ted Watson said, including college-level English and math classes. In the semester that began this weeks, AHS students enrolled in dual enrollment can complete English 101 and English 102. Students may also take academic classes on the LBW campus, or in LBW’s online program. Transportation is available for students to take classes on the Andalusia or Opp campus, Watson said.

But the benefits don’t end there. Dr. Chris Cox, interim president of LBW Community College, said the college will match the funding provided for seniors, offering free tuition for two classes for participants who enroll in the fall semester following their high school graduations.

“We will match the investment,” Cox told the council. “We believe it will be of great benefit to students.”

Watson first presented an outline of the plan hatched by the two education leaders to the council in July. Each year, the school system presents a plan for using the proceeds of a half-cent education sales tax to the council.

Cox said that research shows that a student who completes a dual enrollment class while still in high school is more than two times as likely to complete a degree program.

“This is huge for the city, and I believe will become a model for the state before it’s done,” he said.

Cox said LBW wants to take not only the top students, but also students who might be struggling.

“If they take a college course and see that they can do (college work), that could be huge for them,” he said.

Cox said taking the classes also could help high school students with college admissions.

“For colleges that may not allow them in on their ACT score alone, they could go as transfer students,” he said.

Dual enrollment initiative

• Provides tuition for two academic classes per year, with preference given to seniors.*

• Allows students to enroll in dual enrollment classes on the AHS campus or the LBW campus.

• Provides a “match” tuition scholarship for two classes to AHS graduates who participate and enroll as full-time students.

*Tuition for dual enrollment in technical classes is provided by the state.