Project Opportunity offers $25,000 toward THS/CMCC project
Project Opportunity Monday approved up to $25,000 to support a pilot program that would allow Telstar seniors to enroll in a dual program to earn a year’s worth of college credit at Central Maine Community College while completing their high school graduation requirements.
Project Opportunity provides college scholarships for graduating Telstar students, but also funds other aspiration-related endeavors for current students.
The donation, Supt. Dave Murphy told school directors at their meeting Monday, would cover a year’s tuition at CMCC for 10 to 12 Telstar students who might decide to take advantage of the program, beginning next year.
The offer was announced at the SAD 44 board meeting by Charlie Raymond, a Project Opportunity board member and dean of students at Telstar.
The CMCC idea was first discussed by the School Board April 8. Murphy said then he would seek to fund as much of the costs through grants and outside money as possible, but the district would have to pay some of the expenses. In addition to the tuition, the CMCC project would require $25,000 to $30,000 to transport the students to the Auburn college.
At Monday’s School Board meeting, after more discussion and input from CMCC representatives, directors approved the plan.
The CMCC officials stressed participants must be able to handle college work, noting that CMCC is not a stepping stone to college but an actual college. Classes that Telstar students would be eligible to take could include such topics as history, psychology, accounting, business and computer technology.
School directors had many questions and some concerns.
Tim Akers of Andover wondered if seniors would be willing to effectively leave Telstar for their senior year, leaving behind friends.
Murphy said that was an unknown, and this year’s juniors would have to be queried on such issues in order to determine how much interest there would be in the program.
Kate Botka of Bethel wondered if district funds would be better spent on its younger students.
Keith Smith of Andover, chairman of the Finance Committee, supported the program. He said, “From a financial perspective, there’s no way we could offer this much variety [in courses] to our students at that cost. The benefit we would get is just tremendous. It’s about the cost of one teacher that we would be investing in this.”
The Project Opportunity offer was announced after the board’s discussion, and was met with applause.
“We will begin the process of conversing with our junior class,” Murphy said after the board vote.