Early college high school an option for public schoolers


The Ascension Parish School Board has partnered with the River Parishes Community College (RPCC) for an early college high school program that will start in the fall semester for incoming freshman who are interested. APSB Superintendent Patrice Pujol informed the Donaldsonville Rotary Club that the partnership is an opportunity for the public school students to get both a high school diploma and an Associate’s degree from a two-year community college in the four years they are in high school.

“Of course for our kids here in Donaldsonville to have that opportunity will be phenomenal,” Pujol said.

Pujol brought in the Ascension Parish Supervisor of Secondary Education, Lisa Bacala, to give the club the details of the program at its weekly luncheon at Café Lafourche.

The early college high school program enables students to earn a high school diploma along with an Associate’s degree through the traditional high school time frame.

Bacala said there are kids who graduate high school already now with 15 hours college credits, 24 hours college credit and that this is just a more focused approach to that.

She explained that grades nine and 10 would be primarily high school courses with some dual enrollment, meaning some courses that will count for high school credit and college credit. But, by the time they are juniors every class will be either strictly college or dual enrollment. Each year students can take up to eight credits with the block system, so that’s 32 opportunities in the four years.

Bacala said the offered degrees so far are in Arts and Humanities or General Studies, but “we’d love to be able to make it a Science degree eventually.”

“In the beginning we’ll start with that because that’s more generic and it transfers to more degrees.”

Incoming freshman who are seriously enrolled interested in this option, Bacala said he or she can be enrolled for the fall and the student will talk all classes at the RPCC campus.

Bacala said the program saves time and money because it extends T.O.P.S. for the students at a university and the school board will pay for tuition and textbooks while enrolled in the program.

“Kids can get two years of college while in high school at our costs and they can start college and take two or three years of T.O.P.S. to finish and apply it to their graduate program.”

There are approximately 226 early college high schools scattered throughout 25 states. There is one in Lafayette and Bacala said the faculty and staff there is willing to assist the newly acquired program here.

“We’re not having to reinvent the wheel, we’re taking some of their learning lessons and use them to help us save time and money.”