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Superintendent Myers seeks deal on dual credit classes

The superintendent wants to negotiate.

Lincoln County School District Superintendent Mickey Myers is seeking a meeting with top administrators at Copiah-Lincoln Community College to discuss the college’s fees for dual credit classes, which he says are higher than those charged by nearby Southwest Mississippi Community College. Myers recently told school board members county students are paying around $200 per course for classes offered through Co-Lin, while the same Southwest classes are half that amount.

“Dual enrollment and dual credit is a big part of our accountability model, and right now I don’t understand the disparity,” he said. “We want to encourage our kids to take dual credit classes, but we don’t want to penalize them.”

Both Co-Lin and Southwest charge the same $125 tuition for dual credit classes, which give high school students a chance to earn both high school and college credit hours for courses like Algebra and English Composition, allowing them to enter college with a head start on course requirements. 

Both schools also charge class and resource fees that push the per-course price up above $200 per student, but Southwest offers a deferred payment agreement in which it waives half the cost of the course if the student enrolls at Southwest after graduating from high school. If the student enrolls as a freshman anywhere else, the other half of the bill comes due.

Alicia Shows, vice president for academic affairs at Southwest, said the college began agreeing to deferred payment options last year to give dual credit students a price break after switching to e-books campus-wide.

Co-Lin has no such payment option.

“It’s something we’re looking into right now, but we don’t have any feedback on it at this time,” said Stephanie Duguid, Co-Lin’s dean of academic instruction. “We’re always looking to see what is best for our students in the area. We’ve been doing dual credit since the 1970s, and there’s an increased demand in the community. We’re trying to meet those needs.”

In the meantime, Lincoln County students are bound to Co-Lin’s dual credit fees through the articulation agreement the district has with the college. While Mississippi’s community colleges recruit athletes statewide, the institutions do not recruit academically on one another’s turf.

“We could request an articulation agreement with another community college, but they follow along their consortium lines and usually they won’t infringe on another school’s area,” said Richelle Ratcliff, Lincoln County’s curriculum director and assistant superintendent.

Myers had inquired about the possibility of entering an agreement with Southwest for the sake of Bogue Chitto students and students from “the southern part of our county,” some of whom attend the Summit community college after graduation and could benefit from that school’s deferred payment plans.

Shows said 171 students from Lincoln County enrolled at Southwest for the fall semester this year. The school is also teaching 51 graduates from Franklin County and 29 from Lawrence County.

Co-Lin President Jane Hulon said all the state’s community colleges discount dual credit courses for the sake of high schoolers. The same class for a college freshman would cost $425, she said.

“Honestly, what we’re charging is a significant savings based on what we would charge a college student,” Hulon said. “We do everything we can to promote access and affordability, and we’re happy to work with all our superintendents across the district.”