Alcorn has not approved NECA relocation

Published 12:39 am Saturday, June 4, 2016

NATCHEZ — The Copiah-Lincoln Community College Board of Trustees and the Natchez-Adams School Board have approved moving the Natchez Early College Academy to the Alcorn State University Natchez campus, but one block remains — Alcorn.

The plan to move the academy from the Natchez High School campus to ASU involves a memorandum of understanding between Alcorn, Co-Lin and NASD.

In a statement released by the university, ASU Vice President for Marketing and Communication Clara Stamps said, “Alcorn State University has not signed a MOU with the Natchez-Adams School District to accommodate the Natchez Early College Academy on its Natchez campus. Alcorn will resume conversations on the Natchez Early College Academy after a new superintendent has been named for the school district.”

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Interim Superintendent Fred Butcher said Friday the intent of the board of trustees had been to get Co-Lin on board before getting things moving again with Alcorn.

The Co-Lin board approved the plan Thursday evening, pending approval from the school’s attorney and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Co-Lin President Ronald “Ronnie” Nettles said one of his concerns was that up until recently, he had only heard from ex-superintendent Frederick Hill. Hill was fired in April following a September 2015 federal jury finding him in violation of an employee’s civil rights.

However, on Tuesday, the NASD Board of Trustees unanimously approved the NECA MOU on a two-year agreement.

“I think this effort is a clear effort to say that they are behind the program and are in support of the program,” Nettles said. “We are prepared to move forward with it, with one little caveat — we need to make sure we get this properly approved through our SACS accreditation. We do not believe that is a problem.”

Butcher said he hoped to hear from Alcorn within the following week.

“We are pleased and ready to move forward,” Butcher said. “We need to get the rest of the pieces put together with the proposal.”

Butcher said the school district’s goal is still to have NECA on the Alcorn campus this fall.

“That is not 100 percent,” he said. “If we are not able to get it started when school starts, then hopefully second semester will work.”

Natchez-Adams School Board President Amos James said Co-Lin approving the MOU is good news.

“I think it is great for the kids because they can achieve an associate degree when they graduate,” he said. “When they come out of high school, they can already have an associate degree.”

Moving to the Alcorn campus will incur an expense. Renting a hall of the campus will cost approximately $62,000 per year.

The district will be charged a fee of $100 per three-hour course or $35 for a one-hour course for freshmen and sophomores.

For juniors and seniors, the district will be charged $119.50 per hour. For students taking at least 12 hours or more, the fixed charge is $1,195. All other student fees would be waived. Co-Lin would bill the district the cost of textbooks at regular price.

Butcher said the move would increase the district’s cost per student.