Proposed cuts coming to College in the Schools

Editor’s note: This is the second installment of the three-part series covering Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s proposed budget cuts to higher education. Tomorrow’s story will cover cuts aimed at a variety of small programs across the state.

Before starting her first year in college, Emily Beuning already had 41 credits to her name. Beuning, a Chicano studies junior, got the college credits as part of a program through her high school in Melrose, Minn ., and a community college in Fergus Falls, Minn . The University of Minnesota then accepted those credits when she enrolled. The program is an example of concurrent enrollment , a system in which high school students get both college and high school credit for taking advanced coursework at their high school. In Gov. Tim Pawlenty âÄôs proposed budget cuts to higher education, concurrent enrollment programs are facing a possible $2 million cut . The University of Minnesota sponsors a program similar to the one Buening took, called College in the Schools . The program offers students the opportunity to enroll in classes for both high school and University credit, taught by their high school teachers. There are some requirements, such as a certain class rank, for admittance into the classes. Since its inception in 1986, enrollment in the program has shot from 250 to almost 7,000 in 2007-08.

Two years ago, the state passed a $5 million plan to support concurrent education. Base funding for the plan was expected to be $2 million in 2010, but under PawlentyâÄôs proposal, that money will now be sent to other programs, like Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate . âÄúIt would be very disappointing to lose the money that we won last biennium,âÄù Susan Henderson , director of precollege programs at the University, said. The state paid $34.50 per student in a concurrent enrollment course to school districts. Those districts bear the brunt of the costs of concurrent enrollment, Jan Erickson , associate director of College in the Schools, said. The University only pays for the training of the teachers and the registration costs of students enrolled in the courses, she said. The high schools pay for the actual instruction. âÄúThe high schools are choosing to pay for concurrent enrollment coursework in their institutions because it works really well for their institution,âÄù she said. Under PawlentyâÄôs plan, the state would transfer the $2 million originally appropriated for concurrent enrollment programs in 2010 and give it to AP and IB courses, each of which require a test to determine course credit. English junior Allison Hursh took both CIS classes and AP classes in high school and said she preferred CIS classes. âÄúYou got college credit automatically,âÄù she said. âÄúThey were probably my favorite classes I took in high school.âÄù More than 16,680 students across 384 Minnesota high schools were enrolled in concurrent enrollment classes in 2007, according to a survey of concurrent enrollment programs. Should the state shift funding, Henderson said, those numbers will go down because schools would be unable to pay for more students. âÄúThe elimination of these funds will make it harder for schools to participate in concurrent enrollment,âÄù she said. âÄúI hope the Legislature will be able to restore some of that funding.âÄù Sen. Sharon Erickson Ropes , DFL-Winona, introduced a bill this session that would extend CIS eligibility to freshman and sophomores in high school. She said PawlentyâÄôs recommendations, which would also eliminate $800,000 tied to the shrinking Achieve Scholarship to expand CIS, hurt the state overall. âÄúIf high school students are ready and anxious to move into college curriculum, we should be encouraging and supporting that,âÄù she said, âÄúnot creating more blocks and gaps in the system so that they have to put their future on hold.âÄù -Devin Henry is a senior staff reporter