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FWCS launches college initiative

For the first time, freshmen at two Fort Wayne high schools will have an opportunity to enter an early college program – earning college credits and an associate degree while attending high school.

The new early college program will begin this fall at North Side and Wayne high schools, Fort Wayne Community Schools board members heard Monday.

The district has partnered with Vincennes University for the North Side program and Ivy Tech-Northeast Community College for the program at Wayne.

The program will enable more students, particularly low-income, first-generation and minority students, to experience rigorous high school and college coursework.

“We, along with parents and students, are excited about this program,” Wayne High School Principal John Houser said. “Besides getting college credits for free, the kids have the opportunity to hop right into the rigor of college.”

Wayne will start the program with 20 to 25 freshman students. “We don’t know how large the program will grow,” Houser said. “It may get bigger. We just don’t know at this point.”

School officials met with eighth-grade students and their parents last year to determine interest in the program, Houser said.

Some of those interested had chosen Wayne because of the success of the school’s business academy study program, Houser said.

The early college program will help students attain an associate degree in business from Ivy Tech, he said.

The first two years of the program will develop an academic pathway for each student, Houser said.

“We want to give them a sense of place – a more college-like experience,” he said.

Wayne will house most of the dual-credit classes in the school’s business lab classrooms.

No representatives were available to talk about North Side’s college credit curriculum, but the program will be structured much the same as Wayne’s, said Krista Stockman, spokeswoman for FWCS.

In other business, board members approved hiring Frank Jackson as director of transportation.

Jackson has been with the school district since 1991, working the majority of those years in the transportation department.

He will replace Gary Lake, who is retiring.

About two-thirds of the school district’s 31,000 students ride the buses each day, Stockman said.