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Tuesday, Mar 31, 2015

District's student costs may go down


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BROOKSVILLE - The Hernando County School District might no longer have to pay more than a half-million dollars each year in tuition costs for high school students who are dual-enrolled in college courses.

School board attorney Dennis Alfonso last week said he is speaking with schools Superintendent Lori Romano and Pasco-Hernando State College's general counsel about how the high school and college institutions handle costs.

Alfonso told school board members that PHSC is willing to renegotiate those expenses, which could represent significant savings for the district.

Whether all or part of the administrative costs will be abated is unclear. Negotiations are continuing.

"I don't know if any fees have been paid yet by the district, but if not, there will be at least some savings," Alfonso said.

Romano said if any fees have been paid, they will be reimbursed by the college.

The school board first considered the matter in the fall after a state Senate bill suggested school districts cover tuition costs for high school students also enrolled in college courses.

Prior to that bill, college tuition and fees for dual-enrollment courses were waived.

Administrators with Hernando's high school and college institutions, to comply with the Senate bill, had decided the district would pay $73.20 per credit hour for students attending courses at PHSC campuses and $37.73 per hour for students enrolled in college courses taught by Hernando teachers on Hernando School District properties.

The estimated annual cost to the district would have been about $546,000 for 53 percent of dual-enrolled Hernando students to attend college courses on PHSC campuses and for 47 percent to take courses on school district properties.

Included in those tuition costs were administrative charges PHSC calculated for academic advisers and registration records processes, said Burt Harres, vice president of instruction and provost at PHSC's West Campus.

Harres said instructors teaching dual-enrollment courses at Hernando high schools are Hernando County School District employees with the same academic qualifications as PHSC instructors, which is at least a master's degree in their teaching discipline.

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