Vermont – Marion County students will now be able to earn an associate degree while in high school.
The Marion County Board of Education on Monday welcomed a delegation from Pierpont Community and Technical College to a formal signing ceremony between the board and the college for the “One Walk, Two Degrees” program, officially known as Pierpont College Academy.
The new program is the result of numerous meetings between Pierpont’s leadership and school administrators from the 13 districts served by the Foundation. School systems expressed the need for increased dual credit services with the college, and Pierpont expressed the need for increased college enrollment.
Monongalia County was the first to register, and Upshur and Marion Counties followed soon after.
The Marion County School Board officially approved the memorandum on March 21, but Monday was the ceremonial signing of the document. Marion County Curriculum Chief L.D. Skarzinski said the program is in line with other initiatives the county was already considering.
“We’re always looking for better opportunities for our students and this aligns very quickly with a need we saw,” said Skrzyński. “It was a very quick and easy transition into this, and it was very easy to put something together that would be very beneficial for our kids.”
The program will allow freshmen in high school to enroll in special dual enrollment classes that will allow them to earn college credit while in high school. If students remain on track with the program, they will finish high school with two degrees – a traditional high school diploma and an associate’s degree in liberal studies.
On the college side, this benefits her institution by increasing the number of students attending the college, said Kathleen Nelson, Interim President of Pierpont. According to Nelson, West Virginia is below average compared to the rest of the country.
“This project really allows us to increase the educational level of high school students across our 13-county region,” said Nelson. “I’m so excited by that and the fact that the supervisors came to us and said, ‘This is what we want.'”
Marion County is Pierpont’s home district and although it wasn’t the first school system to enroll in the program, Nelson is thrilled that her school’s home district has expressed its support and belief in the College Academy concept.
“This is our home and our home, and they’ve been tremendously supportive of our academy,” said Nelson.
With the Marion County School Board voting to pass Superintendent Donna Huston’s plan to cut district staff increases by 15 percent earlier this month, saving the district $1.9 million, now comes the work of approving transfer orders as they come in.
Personnel added to the transfer list are kept in limbo until more senior and stable staff are rehired as needed, then personnel are transferred from the transfer list to fill in the gaps.
Monday night began the process of contract renewal and non-renewal, which will also determine where the transferred employees end up.
The next meeting of the Board of Directors will be held May 1 at 6 p.m. in the central office on Mary Lou Retton Drive.