Why isn’t there an early or middle college at WSSU?

Why isn’t there an early or middle college at WSSU?
January 19
08:15 2017



County Commissioner Everette Witherspoon wants an  at Winston-Salem State University.

This has been something Witherspoon isn’t afraid to tell people. A briefing on Jan. 5 in which county commissioners got to ask Superintendent Beverly Emory questions about local schools was no exception.

“We go to do it,” said Witherspoon.  “We have to have one at Winston-Salem State.”

Middle and early colleges are high schools on college campuses. A middle college lets students take college or technical transfer courses while earning their high school diploma. An early college lets them earn an associates degree at the same time as their high school diploma.

The county school system currently has two: Early College of Forsyth County and Middle College of Forsyth County, which are both located at Forsyth Technical Community College.

Witherspoon said such schools have high graduation rates and orient students to college campuses, so they’re more likely to succeed in higher education. He believes having one at WSSU would reach struggling minority students.  He gave Guilford County, which has nine early/middle colleges, as an example of a county that successfully started them at multiple colleges.

Emory responded the reason there hasn’t been a school like that at WSSU because there are no state funds for it.

“The big factor is the dollars are not there to pay that tuition cost,” said Emory.

She said state funds are only currently available for starting early/middle colleges at community colleges. She said state lawmakers need to pass legislation to change this.

Witherspoon said that if state money isn’t available, they should turn to private funds. He suggested going to the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, which is headed by Maurice “Mo“ Green, a former Guilford County superintendent.

Commissioner Walter Marshall said there have been efforts to try to get an early/middle college at WSSU for a long time. He said when he was on the school board, he couldn’t get one there because of lack of funds and space.

Emory later said that she’d had several conversation with WSSU Chancellor Elwood Robinson on an early college, and they’d both like to do it but they lack the money to cover student tuition.

Guilford County actually turned to private funding for two of their schools. Guilford County Schools Chief of Staff Nora Carr said that the STEM Early College at N.C. A&T State University raised about $1 million in private funding to open during a state moratorium on early/middle college funding. The Health Sciences Middle College at UNC Greensboro raised a lesser amount along with significant in-kind donations from healthcare providers and hospitals. She said if a school qualifies for state money, it receives around $300,000 annually.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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