The Dawson County Board of Education Monday night signed a dual enrollment agreement with Lanier Technical College during its monthly board meeting.
Lanier Technical College President Dr. Ray Perren attended the school board meeting with members of his staff to mark the occasion.
The agreement is signed annually, but it was the first time the signing was done jointly during the meeting.
"We see this as a true win-win-win; a win for the school district, it's a win for the college, and most importantly, it's a win for the students," Perren said. "Statewide, 98 percent of students involved in dual enrollment go on to graduate from high school. That's a tremendous track record across the state.
"I also want to thank Roger Slaton for all that he has done for the school system."
Slaton is chair of Lanier Tech's board of directors and a member of the Dawson County Board of Education. He led the search committee that selected Perren for his current position.
"Roger does a wonderful job of keeping us in touch with the community, and he provides a great interface between the college and the Dawson County School System."
Jeff Fitzpatrick, Lanier Tech's high school counselor, said Dawson County High School normally has approximately 10 to 12 percent of its students enrolled in the program.
"This year we expect 15 to 16 percent," he said. "Of approximately 210 seniors, we'll likely have 30-34 students. These are phenomenal numbers."
Superintendent Keith Porter agrees.
"The dual enrollment continues to grow," he said. "When a child, or a young adult, or an adult finishes at Lanier Technical College, the college has 98.6 percent job referral rate for the workforce, which enables students to achieve working status very quickly upon completing their programs. We also see this as a win-win-win."
Students enrolled in Lanier Technical College's dual enrollment program may apply to have all fees and tuition expenses not covered by the HOPE grant waived.
Expenses not covered by the grant are paid for by the college.
"We cover those expenses," said Jeff Fitzpatrick, high school coordinator for Lanier Technical College. "It is a very exciting, very successful program."
This is the first time Lanier Tech has waived the difference in tuition, according to Fitzpatrick. The college has always waived fees for students using the HOPE grant. This applies only to dual enrollment students.
"It is about $24 per credit hour, or for the typical student, about $150 per semester," he said. "This applies to all five campuses."
Lanier Tech absorbs the cost of the program.
"We basically get less revenue from those dual enrollment students," he explained. "Twenty to 25 technical colleges in the state do the exact same thing. It effects our bottom line short term, but long term we know if they have a good experience, they will come back.
The HOPE grant is available to high school students enrolling in technical colleges in Georgia. The grant differs from the HOPE scholarship, which is for traditional colleges whether at a two-year or four-year school. However, the scholarship can be used to take core classes at a technical college like Lanier Tech.
"There has been some confusion about the grant versus the scholarship," Fitzpatrick said. "A high school senior could graduate and be on the HOPE scholarship at a technical college taking core classes."
Students can take core math and English classes at any one of Lanier Tech's five campuses before moving on to a four-year school, and use their HOPE scholarship.
"This is a wonderful opportunity for high school seniors," he added. "If my children were young, I'd want them to do this."
For information about Lanier Technical College's dual enrollment program, call 770-531-6300 or visit online, www.laniertech.edu.