BOCHES anticipates cash shortfall; added tax levy by school districts could help

Nov 27, 2013 By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer

Central Wyoming College's Board of Cooperative Higher Educational Services is having trouble finding funding for future dual enrollment courses in Fremont County.

Jackie Meeker, dual credit program director for CWC BOCHES, said it will be difficult to balance her budget unless local school districts choose other funding options, or limit credit hours available to students.

Unlimited services

Currently, CWC BOCHES offers unlimited credit hours to high school students enrolled in college classes through Meeker's program. But Meeker said the half mill CWC levies to pay for the program is insufficient to continue that trend, especially with enrollment numbers that have increased over time.

"If we continue at that level we estimate we'll be $170,000 short." Meeker said this month during a meeting of the Fremont County School District 25 Board of Trustees.

She added that a 5 percent tuition increase is anticipated for next year.

To avoid limiting services, she said local districts could levy a mill on behalf of CWC.

Each district is eligible for a certain mill based on enrollment numbers, Meeker said. Riverton High School could bring in $59,000, or .39 mill, based on its enrollment figures, she said, and all of Fremont County's districts combined would generate about $170,000.

Otherwise, Meeker said, CWC could simply bill area school districts for tuition and fees incurred by students in dual enrollment.

"So basically you would get no money and we would get no money," Meeker said.

Usually, CWC receives state funding for tuition and fees, then refunds the district for two-thirds of tuition costs for concurrent students. Last year, she said, FCSD25 got $54,000 back. But there would be no refund if the district paid CWC directly. The district could levy its mill to recoup the money, however.

Meeker asked the board to make a decision about funding, or offer a new idea, by January 2014.

During the discussion, superintendent Terry Snyder indicated that cutting credit hours might not be the best choice. He said the unlimited concurrent and dual enrollment opportunities are a benefit to students and families.

"I'm sure it would be a disappointment if that number of hours had to be limited," Snyder said. "There's hope that we can find funds for us to continue to allow that."

Dual vs. concurrent

If all Fremont County school districts don't agree to levy money for CWC BOCHES, Meeker said the program will still be able to serve students to the "full extent" in concurrent enrollment.

Concurrent classes are taught by college-approved high school teachers employed by the school district, and Meeker said students don't have to pay for those courses.

By contrast, dual enrollment courses are taught by college instructors and require funding from CWC for salaries and equipment.

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