Dual Credit/Dual Enrollment decision made by GISD board after debates span multiple meetings
During the course of their regular meeting on Monday, July 20, the Groesbeck ISD school board once again wrestled with decisions about how to best serve students through dual credit and dual enrollment opportunities. Though board members voted in June to keep offering English courses through the UT OnRamps dual enrollment program against the suggestion of board member Angela Crane, discussion and debate in Monday’s meeting led to a unanimous vote the other way, and it was decided that district would instead offer the courses through Navarro’s dual credit program.
Superintendent Dr. James Cowley explained that several questions concerning the presentation about dual credit and dual enrollment had come up since the last board meeting. He stated that after reaching out to Navarro Director of Dual Credit Renae Tribble, she confirmed that Navarro would be willing to accept GISD students into their dual credit English courses despite the district failing to pre-enroll, should they decide to switch.
Groesbeck High School Principal Dr. Bonnie Bomar shared results of a parent and student survey conducted regarding their experience with UT On-Ramps. She shared that many commented on the rigor and workload of the dual enrollment program.
Cowley reminded the board that high school allotment funding provided by TEA used to cover the dual-credit costs that were associated with Navarro, and that when the allotment changed, the district supplemented with fund balance to continue offering as many dual credit classes as possible. He stated that the additional cost of going to Navarro classes for everything except physics (which Navarro does not offer) instead of continuing to split course options between dual credit and dual enrollment would come to $17,232.70, based on the number of students currently enrolled/eligible.
Cowley’s recommendation to switch the English 1301/1302 and the History 1301/1302 courses from UT Onramps to Navarro was not met with easy agreement, but with discord from the board.
Board member Jud Hughes expressed unmasked frustration that they, as a board, were discussing and taking action on a topic that had been discussed and decided upon multiple times in previous meetings.
“Dr. Cowley, how many times have already voted on this to stay with OnRamps instead of going with Navarro College?” Hughes asked outright.
“Probably three or four, Jud, I’m not 100% sure, but I would say three or four,” Cowley replied.
“Okay can somebody in this meeting please tell me or explain to me why we are still bringing this up after we have had multiple teachers, school board members explain and praise the OnRamps program.. Now we have this survey,” Hughes said. “Can anyone let me know why we are still revisiting this when we’ve had three votes on this exact topic?”
Angela Crane and Tiffany Burleson, who had been chosen by fellow board members to form the committee that investigated the pros and cons of dual credit and dual enrollment programs provided by GISD, were quick to attest that new information and continued complaints by parents and students warranted more thorough consideration of this topic by the board. They expressed that providing both dual credit and dual enrollment courses was beneficial to a larger group of students than only providing one format or the other. Hughes stood by his opinion that they as a board should not be going back on decisions that they had already made, claiming it went against administrators confidence in them, spurring disagreement from Aslone Foy and other board members.
“I keep getting all these students and parents reporting their problems to me, and as a board member, I feel like it’s my responsibility to represent them and bring up these concerns,” Crane said. “We have a presentation saying OnRamps is wonderful but I’m getting too much parent feedback saying ‘we are struggling with this and nobody is listening’ so maybe we aren’t asking the right questions. If you look at the comments in this survey, yes there are some good comments but there are also quite a few negative comments, mostly for English.”
Consensus of the board was that the English course alone should be switched from OnRamps to Navarro, but all other college courses should continue to be offered as previously planned: some through OnRamps, others through Navarro.
Hughes made a motion to that effect, it was seconded by Foy and passed unanimously with the board.
As it stands, the college courses available to students for the 2020-2021 school year are as follows:
Classes offered through Navarro Dual Credit:
Composition I/Composition II
ENGL 2323/2311 British Lit I/
Business Technical Writing
MATH 1314/1342 College
Classes offered through UT OnRamps Dual Enrollment:
Physics I/Physics II
According to Cowley, this year’s college course breakdown mirrors that of last year, with the exception of the switch for English 1301/1302 from OnRamps to Navarro.
There will likely be no time for the board to change their mind again regarding this decision, as GISD’s first day of school set for August 12 is fast approaching. For details about what the fall semester will look like with precautions in place due to COVID-19, see additional school board meeting coverage in this edition of the Journal!