Vo-tech option not ready at Co-Lin yet

Published 12:05am Friday, May 18, 2012

NATCHEZ — A bill passed in the last week of Mississippi’s legislative session could give high school dropouts and potential dropouts the chance to earn a high school diploma while learning job skills.

Senate Bill 2792, which Gov. Phil Bryant signed Monday, will create a dual-enrollment program with local community colleges that would cater to potential high school drop outs by letting them dual enroll in vocational classes.

Copiah-Lincoln Community College President Ronnie Nettles said the college already has dual enrollment classes, but those focus on academic courses such as composition or Algebra.

“This would put (students) into a career and technical type program where they could, as dual enrollment students, graduate from high school but also graduate with some kind of workforce credential,” Nettles said.

Nettles said Co-Lin was already working on a pilot program similar to the bill for the Brookhaven School District, a first-year auto mechanics program, which with some tweaking could be used in conjunction with the new law.

“(The pilot program) certainly has the framework where it could do a lot of different things,” he said.

Despite that, Nettles said he thinks it would be difficult to implement the new dual enrollment program on the time frame that the new bill specifies. The bill specifies that the program is to be implemented statewide in the 2013-2014 school year.

“I think the fact that we have experience in these areas is good, but I don’t think it is realistic to have programs set up in all the schools in the Co-Lin district (in that time),” Nettles said.

Nonetheless, Nettles said the college believes the program is a good idea and will begin looking at what needs to be done to make it happen.

Under the bill, high school students in the dual enrollment program would not pay community college tuition. Local school districts will receive state aid and will reimburse the colleges with those funds.