Early college details lacking

Published 11:30 pm Thursday, February 10, 2011

By Leesha Faulkner

The Selma Times-Journal

Members of the Selma City School Board want to know exactly where the school system stands with Wallace Community College and the Selma Early College program.

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Thursday, during its regular meeting held at CHAT Academy, school board members asked superintendent Donald Jefferson to meet with Wallace president James Mitchell to figure out what the school system is supposed to do to help maintain the program.

“Our board met over a year ago and still we don’t have answers to questions,” said Brenda Obomanu, a school board member.

The school board wants the information before it meets in a work session at 5:30 p.m., March 1, at the Central Office on Broad Street.

Recently, the school board thought it would have to come up with $300,000 or begin phasing out the program that would see talented at-risk students earn an associate degree through Wallace as they earn their high school diploma.

The $300,000 would have paid tuition for the Selma High students the system had not paid for in two years.

But last week, Mitchell said the school system did not owe the money. He had written a grant proposal and received enough money to pay Selma’s debt, Mitchell said.

School board president Henry Hicks Sr. said the school system had already asked Mitchell for the information.

“We’re just waiting for a response,” Hicks said.

Hicks said Jefferson had requested amounts of grants paid into the program and where the college had spent those dollars and asked about roles played by each entity.

“We need to mend whatever relationship we have, whatever broke relationship we have,” Hicks said.

Jefferson has maintained the advisory committee to the early college program is to raise money. The school system provides an administrator, paid about $74,000 a year, and five instructors paid out of school funds.

Last year, the school system received about $132,000 — less than the $150,000 generally awarded because of proration — that paid the administrator’s salary and purchased some computers for the program, Jefferson said.

The school superintendent said he supports the program, “100 percent. If we couldn’t afford it, it would be something else.”