Wolf Creek to join area effort to earn college credits

WATERFORD – The Wolf Creek Local school district is joining a group of more than 20 Appalachian districts seeking a grant from the state’s newly created Straight A Fund to expand opportunities for students to earn college credit while still in high school.

At its regular meeting Monday in the Waterford High School library, the board voted 4-0, with Vice President Neil Huck absent, to approve a memorandum of understanding with the Ohio Appalachian Collaborative to apply for $15 million under the program, which is intended to provide seed money for sustainable, problem-solving solutions to issues facing schools.

“We are actually going for the Ohio Appalachian Collaborative Community College,” Wolf Creek Superintendent Bob Caldwell told board members. “The intent is (students) would be able to graduate with a high school diploma and a two-year degree.”

Students can earn college credit through the post-secondary enrollment option (PSEO), in which they attend courses on a college campus for both high school and college credit, or dual enrollment, in which college courses are taught on the high school campus. Waterford High School has recently expanded its dual-enrollment math offerings and reduced the number of students earning college credit through PSEO from a high of 28 to three this year, Caldwell said.

When a student goes the PSEO route, funding follows him or her from the school district to the college. With dual enrollment, most of the funding stays with the district.

Board member Joe Campbell said dual enrollment can be a benefit to students and families as well as the school district. One of his sons took multiple dual-enrollment classes at Waterford and entered The Ohio State University with a number of credits, making it easier for him to schedule other courses he needed, he said.

“That gave him a leg up on the other incoming freshmen,” Campbell said.

In addition, getting college credits taken care of while still in high school can be a cost-savings for students and their families, he said.

Caldwell said the grant application is not limited only to the 22 schools in the Ohio Appalachian Collaborative, which also includes Warren Local, Belpre City, Marietta City, Morgan Local and Noble Local schools. Other schools can sign on to the memorandum to be a part of the project, if the grant is approved.

The nuts and bolts of the Straight A Fund are still being finalized at the state level. According to a release from the Ohio Department of Education, the fund’s governing board will meet Wednesday to approve the application process.

The board also voted 4-0 to approve joining another OAC grant application, this one for Race to the Top funding that would support personal learning networks designed to help prepare students for careers.