EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine — Schenck High School students can graduate with as many as 18 college credits starting in September under an expanded program that could eventually draw more families into the Katahdin region, officials said Friday.
Built around a single class first offered 14 years ago by English teacher Nancy Moscone, the dual-enrollment program will offer high school and college credits to qualified juniors and seniors in four courses taught during school hours and two more offered after school, she said.
“With our declining enrollment, we are always looking for ways to make Schenck High School more attractive, to give students and parents more advantages by coming here,” Principal John Farrington said Friday.
The program, Farrington said, might also draw more teachers with master’s degrees interested in teaching college- and high school-level courses.
The program costs the AOS 66 school system $60 per class, or $20 per credit, for each student enrolled. By comparison, the University of Maine System charges about $269 per credit, Moscone said.
The budget for AOS 66, which serves East Millinocket, Medway and Woodville, is not finalized, but school board members have tentatively set aside $6,000 for the 2013-14 school year, which begins July 1.
Schenck’s effort is not unlike several pilot programs developing around the state. It closely resembles but is not connected to the Bridge Year Program at Hermon High School.
A joint venture this year that includes Hermon High, United Technologies Center, Eastern Maine Community College and the University of Maine, the Bridge Year Program enables Hermon students to earn as many as 29.5 college credits during their junior and senior years and summer vacations.
Participants who stick with the Bridge program can complete their two-year degree programs in the year after graduating high school.
Schenck’s program teams with the Katahdin Region Higher Education Center and Eastern Maine Community College and promises 18 credits earned through the four in-school courses.
Schenck teacher Will Cousins will teach College Algebra; teacher Paula Sprague will offer Child and Adolescent Development; teacher Jesse Page will teach Understanding Music; and Moscone will teach College Composition: English 101, Moscone said.
In the after-school programs, teacher Charla Lowell will offer Introduction to Psychology and teacher Cathy Steeves will guide juniors and seniors through Introduction to Sociology, a class two Schenck juniors are taking now at KRHEC, which is in East Millinocket, Moscone said.
“Our hope is that once this gets ahold, that the potential is certainly there for students to graduate with 15 college credits,” Moscone said. “I guess my goal would be for them to strive to graduate with 12 to 15 credits because these same kids are taking AP classes and other things and it all adds up to a whole lot of rigor.”
The program is timely given concerns that a proposed Schenck roof repair job, combined with the continuing regional population decline and economic downturn, threatens the future of the school, which also houses Opal Myrick Elementary School.
But Moscone estimates that it will take two to five years before the enhanced program really catches on. As of Friday, 18 students had signed up for her composition class. Sign-ups will continue for several weeks.
The program’s greater aim, she said, is to help alleviate the cost of college for Schenck parents and students.
“We are doing this to raise the level of opportunity and expand our curricula for the students we have. If it brings in added students, then that is just an added bonus,” Moscone said.