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Trustees select ECHS site

AHOSKIE – An old automotive shop will be transformed into an area that will build minds instead of engines.

At their meeting here Tuesday night, the Roanoke-Chowan Community College Board of Trustees voted unanimously to use the Freeman Building to house the Early College High School program.

Upon a recommendation of the trustees’ Building and Grounds committee, a 7,000 square foot area of RCCC’s old automotive technology center will be renovated for the program, one which Hertford County High School students can use to obtain their regular diploma as well as a two-year college degree over a five-year time frame.

Finding an area on the RCCC campus for this innovative program has been at the forefront of the issue since it was redeveloped last year.

“We were looking for space large enough for three-to-four classrooms, a principal’s office and counselor’s office,” said Board of Trustees Vice-Chairman Ronald Gatling who also heads-up the Building and Grounds committee.

Gatling gave his fellow board members a list of the possible areas at RCCC that could be used to house the Early College High School program.

** Freeman Building (7,000 square feet; renovation cost: up to $420,000).

** Freeland Building (4,000 square feet; renovation cost: up to $320,000).

** Old Small Business Center (8,000 square feet; renovation cost: up to $600,000).

** Construct new metal building (5,000 square feet; cost: up to $550,000).

The renovations are part of grant funding from the Golden LEAF Foundation that will get the Early College High School program up and running.

“We don’t have the time to have designed and obtain the engineering specs on a new building,” Gatling said, August, 2008 start-up of the new program. “It’s just not feasible to do.”

Board members Lillie Owens-White, Shelia Porter and James Eure all spoke in favor of the Freeman Building, prompting a motion and ensuing favorable vote to use that on-campus facility.

The Early College High School program will begin with 50, 9th graders in its first year and then add 50 freshmen per year for a total of 250 students by year five. The application process begins with 8th grade students. High school administrators will select the 50 students per year.

The school will have its own principal, counselor, college liaison, core teachers (English, math, science and social studies) and support staff.

Students involved in the program will carry dual enrollment at RCCC and Hertford County High School.