Dare creating early college, expanding Dare Guarantee Scholarship

Published 12:34 pm Thursday, February 22, 2024

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Dare County commissioners are creating a Dare County early college.

On Feb. 5, 2024, the Dare County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to move ahead in creating this new school to open in the fall of 2025 with the first class and by fall 2026 in a new $25 million building.

County manager Robert L. Outten said the early college idea has been around for at least two years. He’s been in the old College of The Albemarle campus buildings numerous time. The newest building can be used to start the initial freshman class. However, the second building is a “very, very old facility” and would cost $2.6 million to bring up to standards.

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The board’s Capital Improvement Planning Committee recommended that a brand new facility be constructed and suggested placing that building on the new College of The Albemarle campus in Manteo.

Building that facility is on the College of The Albemarle’s Board of Trustees for an update from college president Jack Bagwell at its meeting on Feb. 13, 2024.

The funding source for the new facility comes from lottery proceeds and a portion of sales tax specifically set aside for building schools. Outten said “it can only be used for bricks and mortar.”

Outten said “there’s sufficient money in the fund to add on to existing schools.”

Outten gave the floor to Dare County Schools Superintendent Steve Basnight to answer the question, “why are we doing this?”

Basnight started with the students who will attend: first time college-bound from a family, minority, at risk of dropping out or accelerated course work students.

The current program is called “dually enrolled.” In last year’s graduating class, six students earned associate’s degrees at Cape Hatteras Secondary and one student from First Flight High earned an associate’s degree. No student graduated with an associate’s degree from Manteo.

“It takes a lot of time,” said Basnight. “Typically, students are taking classes in the summer.”

In early college, between 35 and 50 students a year will graduate with an associate’s degree, reported Basnight, who also said that if a student opts for a military career, he or she goes in at a higher pay grade.

“It’s a win-win all the way down the road,” declared Basnight. “We’re striving to add to the tool box.”

Only about 100 students will be accepted each year, for a total enrollment of around 350 students from ninth through year 13. At first, four to six teachers will be needed.

Commissioner Rob Ross asked how students are going to be selected.

Basnight replied “kids apply.” Grades are not part of the application. Points are assigned for demographics.

Outten admitted “there will be some cost for us,” as another building is added. He reported he’s talked with the Town of Manteo and with College of The Albemarle.

The board also authorized publishing a request for qualifications for architects.

On another College of The Albemarle matter, commissioner Ervin Bateman asked if eligibility for the Dare Guarantee Scholarship could be extended to those attending Dare Challenge and graduates of Dare County Recovery Court. After discussion, eligibility was granted.

In other financial matters, the commissioners agreed            to:

– Enter into a lease agreement with the Town of Kitty Hawk for the Emergency Medical Services building and a single bay for a town fire truck. No rent will be charged.

– Change the Board of Commissioners meeting previously scheduled for 9 a.m., Monday, May 6, 2024 to 9 a.m., Tuesday, May 7, 2024.

– A budget amendment for architect’s fees for the emergency medical services buildings in Manteo and Frisco.

– Accept a reimbursable grant for nine portable radios at the 911 Center as requested by the Dare County sheriff.

– An amendment to a contract with YoungWilliams PC, a child support contractor.

– A budget amendment for funding the Bridge Access Program for COVID-19 Vaccines and Treatments. “The purpose of this funding is for the Local Health Department to provide operational support to improve COVID-19 vaccine access for uninsured and under insured adults. Funding will be used cover the cost of administering the vaccinations, to purchase needed and updated equipment, and media advertising to promote COVID-19 vaccine availability,” states the agenda item. The amendment is for $46,373.