LIBERTY — An opportunity new to Liberty Public Schools will allow students to travel to Metropolitan Community College for college classes that would provide duel credit to both juniors and seniors of the Liberty school district.

LPS leaders would like students to gain experience from taking college courses on a college campus before graduating high school.

Assistant Superintendent for Academic Services Beth Heide said the district would like to partner with other area colleges in the future, but MCC would be the first to participate.

“What this program does is allow students to take high school courses in conjunction with college courses and still be able to have classes at the high school while pursuing a college education,” she said.

Duel enrollment numbers have continued to increase at LPS through the years, Heide said, demonstrating a demand for the program. During the 2016-17 school year, college level class enrollment was at 1,671 students within the district with 749 students taking advantage of duel credit. In the 2017-18 year, the number increased to 1,725 enrolled with 788 receiving duel credit.

For students interested in the dual credit program, transportation from LPS could be provided.

In the program, a student will take MCC classes in the afternoon as high school courses are taken in the morning. Students will be allowed to take up to 12 college credit hours per year, with six per semester.

The first year will have a cap of 25 students. Superintendent Jeremy Tucker said the district likely will have between 18 and 25 students interested.

Costs for classes would vary, but Heide said there may be tuition assistance for students who qualify for free or reduced lunch. Between the tuition assistance and transportation, Heide estimates the cost to the district may be under $60,000.

School board members AJ Byrd and David Evans expressed support for the program during the Nov. 20 board meeting where the board approved the plan.

“We are fully aware that college is not the only option for students, and we would never want to dissuade a student from taking another option if that were given to them. We do believe that college is still the option for some students, and we want to encourage that and try to think about how we can further open gates and doors for students to have access,” Heide said.

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