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ECHS facility renovation delayed

AHOSKIE – With the exception of facility renovations, the Early College High School (ECHS) plan in Hertford County is running on schedule.

That plan, a partnership between Hertford County Public Schools (HCPS) and Roanoke-Chowan Community College (RCCC), was updated by RCCC President Dr. Ralph Soney during Tuesday night’s meeting of the college’s Board of Trustees.

Dr. Soney reported on several meetings of an advisory committee, created among HCPS and RCCC officials, discussed the budget of the ECHS and updated the trustees on renovations at RCCC to accommodate the new students.

Those new students, 50 initially, will arrive in August for the start of the 2008-09 school year. The ECHS plan calls for an additional 50 students each year until 200 are enrolled. Over a five-year period, those students will be able to complete their requirements for a high school diploma plus earn enough credit hours to obtain an Associates Degree from RCCC and/or transfer those credits to a four-year institution.

The only hang-up thus far in the ECHS plan is the renovations at RCCC. The original plan called for the Freeman Building to be ready to house the new students by August. However, the bids for the renovations will not be awarded until July 15 and work is not scheduled to begin until Aug. 1.

“That work isn’t scheduled to be completed until mid-October or early November,” Dr. Soney said. “Therefore, we will temporarily house the Early College High School program in the Freeland Building.”

Dr. Soney added that the ECHS students will not be moved into the renovated Freeman Building until January of 2009.

“They (ECHS students) will be in the midst of a semester when the Freeman work is finished and we don’t want to interrupt what they are doing at that time,” he stressed. “The plan is to transition them from Freeland to Freeman after the Christmas holiday break.”

As included in the budget, RCCC will spend $510,000 to renovate the Freeman Building for the ECHS program. That money represents the lion’s share of the $691,500 first-year allocation to RCCC through a $1.388 million grant from The Golden LEAF Foundation for the ECHS program. The other “big ticket” items on the RCCC financial spreadsheet for the first year of ECHS include network/wiring ($90,500), kitchen/cafeteria ($30,000), electricity ($15,000), technology equipment ($12,500), classroom/office furniture ($12,000) and security ($11,500).

Meanwhile, HCPS will receive $240,400 in Golden LEAF grant funds for the first year of the ECHS program. The majority of that money is earmarked for instructional staff ($68,000), laptop computers ($65,000), tutoring/special programs ($25,000), office/instructional supplies ($20,000), student transportation ($18,900), technology equipment ($12,500) and staff development ($10,000).

The total Golden LEAF funds will be dispersed over a three-year period ($728,100 for RCCC and $659,940 for HCPS).

HCPS will spend an additional $285,000 per year (over a five-year period) for the “Learn and Earn” portion of the ECHS program. Most of that money will be spent annually on support positions ($140,000), a College Liaison for RCCC ($58,000) and textbooks ($30,000).

An open house and new student orientation for the ECHS program will be held Aug. 4-9 at RCCC.