After dual enrollment controversy, USF offers college tuition at Manatee High Schools

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The USF Sarasota-Manatee campus in southern Manatee County.

The USF Sarasota-Manatee campus in southern Manatee County.

The research is clear: students who participate in dual-enrollment programs are more likely to graduate from high school and earn a college degree.

Citing information from the Community College Research Center, the superintendents of Manatee and Sarasota county schools issued a joint statement last October, shortly after the State College of Florida announced its decision to withdraw dual-enrollment classes. secondary schools.

“For many students in the Sarasota and Manatee area, this decision will negatively impact their chances of excelling academically and going to college,” the statement said.

But dual enrollment, a program that allows high school students to earn college credit, will soon return to Manatee campuses.

The school board unanimously approved a $200,000 deal with the University of South Florida in February, and the board will consider a revised contract on Tuesday, adding another math class to the curriculum.

Beginning in the 2019-2020 school year, the program will allow manatee students to earn high school and college credits in English, math, science, foreign language, and social studies, as well as several elective courses.

Students can take dual-enrollment courses online or at USF Sarasota-Manatee. The school district also plans to offer the program in all traditional high schools, as well as the Manatee School for the Arts, according to an email from Shirley Hurley, the district’s advanced studies coordinator.

The new USF contract takes effect July 1, the same day SCF is expected to withdraw its dual enrollment program from area high schools. The SCF board of trustees made the decision in September, citing “quality inconsistencies related to course rigor, faculty supervision, academic support and guidance” across various campuses.

While district leaders condemned SCF for its decision to remove dual enrollment from local schools, the college argued that classes would still be offered online and on SCF campuses. In response, Superintendent Cynthia Saunders said the new arrangement was too restrictive.

“Transportation and technology issues may prevent our students from taking these courses at SCF or online and this limits opportunities,” Saunders said in the prepared statement, released in early October.

As the new program rolls out, interested students should apply through the USF Sarasota-Manatee website, accessible by clicking on the “Admissions” tab and navigating to the “Dual Enrollment” link. . Applicants must also meet certain GPA and standardized testing requirements.

Although the program is free for students, the school district will pay USF for textbooks and instructors, as well as tuition for classes outside of a high school campus, per the agreement.

In a prepared statement Monday afternoon, Superintendent Saunders thanked USF leaders — Karen Holbrook, Brett Kemker and Brandon Avery — for making the plan a reality.

“Not only will this expand opportunities for Manatee County students while they are still in high school, but it will also be a catalyst for future study at USF after high school,” Saunders said.

This story was originally published April 8, 2019 1:10 p.m.

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