HC teaming with BSISD for higher education

Howard College and Big Spring Independent School District officials are in the early planning stages for a program that could dramatically increase the college education possibilities for area high school students.HC officials will brief college trustees on plans to begin an Early College High School Initiative program when they hold their monthly meeting at 12:30 p.m. Monday in the Student Union Building Tumbleweed Room.HC President Dr. Cheryl Sparks said the Early College High School program would allow students to take college-credit courses as early as their freshmen year in high school.The program would benefit both the school district and the junior college, Sparks said.“Hopefully, students involved with this type of program will graduate and have an interest in continuing their college careers,” Sparks said. “In fact, one of the goals of the program is for the student to graduate (high school) with an associate's degree or a certificate, a marketable skill or transferrable college credits.”The college and BSISD recently received permission from the Texas Education Agency to research the feasibility of starting such a program locally. During the next several months, officials with both entities will visit several similar programs in Texas, as well as formalize details of how the initiative would be implemented locally.“The designs vary according to the partnerships,” Sparks said. “In some instances, the program is held on the college campus, while in some other instances, its held on both the high school and college campuses, or just at the high school. We're in the process of determining which scenario would work best for us.”Costs would be minimal — officials plan to use existing personnel and facilities, Sparks said.If all goes well, the school district and college could begin offering courses under the initiative as early as the 2012 fall semester.In other business Monday, trustees will consider:• Future building needs at SouthWest Collegiate Institute for the Deaf and Howard's San Angelo campus.• The annual delinquent tax collection report.• The college's redistricting plan.• Fall enrollment numbers.• Updates on accountability and program pass rates.• A resolution to tax in-transit goods.• Bids and catalog and handbook changes.