Eagle County Schools nearly doubles dual enrollment investment
Dual enrollment budget increases to $1 million with high school students taking many more college classes
EAGLE — Eagle County high school students are taking about twice as many college credit classes as anticipated.
That means the school district nearly doubled its spending on those classes. It’s money the district has and is happy to invest this way, said Sandy Mutchler, the school district’s chief operating officer.
The school district budgeted $645,000 to pay for dual enrollment classes through the 2019-20 school year. Right now, it looks like it will spend $1.02 million, Mutchler told the school board.
That’s money parents, students and families won’t have to spend on college, Superintendent Phil Qualman said.
“The investment in dual enrollment not only saves parents tuition dollars, it creates confidence in our students,” Qualman said. “If you’re the first person in your family to think about going to college, getting a few classes out of the way in high school confirms that you can succeed in that environment. That can make all the difference.”
The counting continues
The school district’s DE pricetag should drop by as much as 40%. Colorado Mountain College reimburses the school district for the time high school teachers spend teaching DE college classes for CMC.
For the 2018-19 school year, CMC’s reimbursement was around $407,000. If that amount, or something close to it, was applied to the 2019-20 budget line of $1.02 million, the school district’s net cost would be about $613,000, less than the $645,000 budgeted for this school year, according to Dan Dougherty, the school district’s chief communications officer.
Defining dual enrollment
Dual enrollment classes are college-level courses for which high school students are simultaneously enrolled in Colorado Mountain College through its partnership with the school district. The school district picks up the tab for tuition — if the student passes the class. If the student does not pass, the student or their parents pay for it.
About 28% of local high school students — around 650 — will take at least one dual enrollment class in this school year. That’s still short of the school district’s goal of 41%, Qualman said.
Dual enrollment versus advanced placement
Dual enrollment classes are not the same as advanced placement classes. Advanced placement classes are college-level courses taught to prepare students for AP exams. Students are not simultaneously enrolled in a college.
Instead, after completing the course, students take an AP exam. If they score well enough on that test, they get an AP credit that can become a college credit.
Early college program
Eagle County schools pioneered the Early College program in which students finish high school, but stay on the school district’s rolls until they earn up to 60 credit hours toward a bachelor’s or associate’s college degree.
Both Eagle Valley and Battle Mountain high schools are among 20 schools across Colorado that are part of the program, Dougherty said.
State lawmakers are considering whether to drop the program or leave it alone.