Florida districts, colleges should collaborate on dual enrollment, commissioner Tony Bennett says
Concerns raised by Florida's school superintendents about the shifting cost of dual enrollment programs will require some cooperation, education commissioner Tony Bennett told officials in a recent memo.
The new model, which requires districts to pay colleges for the tuition of high school students taking dual enrollment courses, takes effect today, July 1. Superintendents have complained that the districts, which already pay for the students' books, cannot afford the sudden requirement that they use per-student funding to support the college courses.
"While I understand there may continue to be challenges as you work toward the August 1, 2013, submission of the 2013-14 Dual Enrollment Articulation Agreement, I encourage school districts and Florida College System institutions to work collaboratively to ensure Florida's students continue to have access to high-quality dual enrollment opportunities," Bennett wrote in his memo to superintendents and presidents.
The Department of Education oversees both K-12 districts and community/state colleges. It cannot arbitrarily change the law, although some State Board members have said they will urge lawmakers to reconsider the funding model.
Until that happens, the DOE has issued a list of questions and answers to guide implementation of the new law. A sample:
46. If a student already is enrolled for six secondary courses one full FTE) is the district still required to pay for dual enrollment courses outside of school hours?
Yes. A school district earns FTE for dual enrollment courses regardless of whether the course is taken before, during, or after school hours during the school year. A school district must pay the standard tuition rate for any dual enrollment taken during the school year, either before or after school. A school district may not deny an eligible student from participating in the dual enrollment program even if the student is taking six secondary courses during the school day.
47. Does the school district get a tuition refund for student withdrawals?
Policies regarding tuition payments will vary among school districts and colleges. In the Dual Enrollment Articulation Agreement the school district and Florida College System institution will determine the methods of payment for student withdrawals. However, the school district may not charge a student for the dual enrollment tuition if that student withdraws from the course.
48. Are students required to pay for textbooks?
Section 1007.271(14), F.S., specifies that “Instructional materials assigned for use within dual enrollment courses shall be made available to students from Florida public high schools free of charge.” In addition, early admission is listed in subsection (7) as “a form of dual enrollment” so all of the same statutory provisions apply. This provision of instructional materials includes electronic access codes for these materials. Students enrolled in home education programs or nonpublic secondary schools must provide their own materials. Any fines relating to instructional materials (e.g., late return or lost book fees) should be included in the Dual Enrollment Articulation Agreement.