FAIRFIELD — While the Vacaville School District rolled out its early college program in conjunction with Solano Community College this year, the Fairfield-Suisun School District will wait until the 2014-15 school year.
With several deviations from the Vacaville program.
The host school will be Rodriguez High School, but students accepted into the program will spend their entire class day on the Fairfield campus of Solano College, except for a few exceptions, said Sheila McCabe, the district’s director of secondary education.
Part of the day will be taught by high school teachers in the early college program and the other part will see the students assimilated into college classes for electives. The model came from a program in Contra Costa County in which the entire early college program is located on the community college campus.
Being on campus all day allows the students to become “more entrenched in the college culture (and) gives them a greater exposure,” McCabe said.
“I’m very excited about having an early college program in our district,” she said. “We talk so often about connecting students from one grade level to another.”
She said this is a “great way” to transition the students from high school to college.
The district is working with the college to write the memorandum of understanding that will outline the vision for the program. McCabe said that later this month, a larger committee will meet to “map out the nuts and bolts.”
The committee will be tasked with finalizing the program criteria, such as how the students will be selected. Vacaville School District based its criteria on underrepresented students on college campuses, such as low-income or first-generation college students, but there is no indication that Fairfield-Suisun will follow suit.
“I don’t think they’re going to make it as prescriptive,” said Shirley Lewis, who was instrumental in the Vacaville program when she was dean of Solano Community College’s Vacaville Center. She is the college district’s dean of student services, which serves as the chief student services officer.
McCabe said the district wants to ensure it’s geared toward students interested in the experience, which adds to the district’s goal of offering different options for students, she said. She cited the Matt Garcia Learning Center, Dover Bridge to Success and the Public Safety Academy.
“(Early college) is just one more option for the families and students we serve,” she said.
Like Vacaville, the program will take 60 freshman the first year and grow each year, with the goal of high school graduates earning a college associate degree along with their high school diploma. McCabe estimates the program will not be any bigger than 400 students when completely built out.
The program was supposed to roll out with the Vacaville program, but fell a bit behind in the planning, Lewis said. McCabe said the district needed the extra planning time to ensure its inaugural year was successful.
McCabe declined to discuss the cost of the program to the district. She said the district is working with the Vacaville School District with what they have done. Mark Frazier, Vacaville schools’ chief academic officer, said the district will spend probably between $27,000 and $29,000 for books, technology and transportation this year. The costs will double next year.
Even though Vacaville’s school district doesn’t offer regular school bus service, it elected to bus the students from Will C. Wood High School, the program’s host site, to the Vacaville Center for the midday change. By housing the Fairfield-Suisun program on the Solano College campus, it will eliminate the need for transportation costs, since the Fairfield-Suisun district does not normally supply bus service for high school students.
“That’s an advantage of this model,” she said.
Reach Susan Winlow at 427-6955 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/swinlowdr.