Dual enrollment program will bring college classes to Maria Carrillo High School

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Maria Carrillo High School students this fall will be the first in the Santa Rosa school district to access Santa Rosa Junior College classes at their own campus during school hours through a new dual enrollment program.

“These courses are offered to them at no cost and it’s a great way to get a head start on college,” said Pedro Avila, the college’s vice president of student services and assistant superintendent.

For over a decade, Santa Rosa high school students could earn college credit in the concurrent enrollment program, but classes were usually held at the junior college, creating a transportation barrier for some. While college classes were offered on high school campuses, they were before or after school and open to the public.

That changed after a 2015 state law, AB 288, paved the way for community colleges to partner with school districts to offer college classes exclusively to high school students at their own campuses.

“This opens college level classes up to every (high school) student. It provides equity,” said Lori Fletcher, director of curriculum and instruction for seventh through 12th grade at Santa Rosa City Schools.

An introduction to automotive technology class will be offered in the fall at Maria Carrillo, and an automotive heating and air-conditioning systems and industrial mathematics class will be offered in the spring. Each class can enroll up to 30 students.

Maria Carrillo’s auto tech teacher happened to be a part-time adjunct instructor at the junior college, so the high school was a good fit for the first year of dual enrollment classes.

“Everything was in alignment,” said Debi Batini, the district’s director of career technical education and college and career readiness.

Santa Rosa City Schools is the first K-12 district to collaborate with the college district in a dual enrollment program after AB 288 was passed, Avila said. About 30,000 students attend Santa Rosa Junior College annually, and about 1,000 of them are high school students in the concurrent enrollment program, Avila said.

Avila said students in dual enrollment programs are less likely to drop out of high school and more likely to complete a college degree.

“Kids learn that they can do college, and that’s very important,” Fletcher said.

For this school year, only technical classes will be available through dual enrollment, but there’s room to expand in the future.

“We have the template now with Santa Rosa City Schools to expand to other districts,” Avila said.

He said the Healdsburg Unified School District has spoken to him about partnering for a dual enrollment program, while districts in Cloverdale, Petaluma and Windsor also have expressed interest.

Santa Rosa Junior College trustees plans to officially approve at their meeting Tuesday the dual enrollment program with the Santa Rosa school district.

“Our board is very excited about this. They think it’s a great opportunity for us to increase access to our (college) district,” Avila said.

The faculty union and the academic senate supports the dual enrollment program, as well, Avila said.

Santa Rosa City Schools Superintendent Diann Kitamura and Santa Rosa Junior College Superintendent Frank Chong are expected sign the agreement Tuesday shortly after SRJC trustees approve it.

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