Thirty Manassas Park juniors and seniors could earn college credit while still in high school beginning this fall, thanks to the Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC) Dual Enrollment STEM Academy.
The Manassas Park School Board on Monday approved the Memorandum of Understanding with NVCC, allowing students of Manassas Park to participate in the dual enrollment STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) academy at the NVCC campus in Manassas.
A total of 110 students from Manassas Park and Manassas are expected to participate in the pilot program which is set to begin this fall, Aleksander Marthinussen, STEM Education Coordinator at NVCC's SySTEMic Solutions told the Manassas Park School Board on Monday.
Students from Manassas City Public Schools are supposed to occupy the other 80 spaces in the program, but on Tuesday Manassas schools staff told the Manassas School Board the memorandum of understanding between the division and the community college is still under review by attorneys.
The STEM program increases NVCC’s ability to provide STEM education to high school students, Marthinussen told the Manassas Park School Board during a presentation on Monday.
Data shows the demands of the future workload in the STEM field weren’t being met because colleges and university aren’t producing enough graduates certified in that field.
Marthinussen outlined how a Manassas Park dual enrollment student would be able to earn his or her associates degree within one year of graduation from high school.
View the dual enrollment course track and Marthinussen's presentation to the school board by clicking on the PDF on the right of this article.
Students will need more than a high school diploma to work in this field, but they don’t necessary need a four-year degree, he said.
The dual enrollment program, however, can be used to attend a university and earn a bachelors, he added.
There will be a pre-STEM program beginning in the eighth grade and continuing into the 10th grade year, Marthinussen said.
Juniors and seniors will be in the actual STEM dual enrollment program.
The program makes higher education more affordable to the student and their parents because the school division will pay for the classes, as well as their transportation to the NVCC campus from the high school each afternoon.
The program is expected to cost the school division about $20,000 in Fiscal Year 2014.
Dr. Bruce McDade, superintendent of Manassas Park schools, told the board his proposed budget, allowed for up to 38 students in the program.
Since there are only 30 slots, funding the program is well within the budget, he said.
“Congratulations Manassas Park. This is exactly what we need. That’s very exciting,” school board Chairman Michael Wine said after the body approved the measure.
To qualify, the student must have at least a 2.5 Grade Point Average, write an essay and have a teacher recommendation.
They must also be hardworking and have a serious interest in the STEM field, Marthinussen said.
The students will also need to apply to NVCC and be tested. NVCC officials will likely travel to the high schools for that phase, he said.
Lastly is the school’s acceptance of the student into the dual enrollment program.