COLUMBUS, Ohio ― A statewide program in Ohio that offers free college credit to middle- and high-schoolers may save parents and students money, but taxpayers in school districts will be left with the tab.
The College Credit Plus program cost schools in the South-Western City School District in Columbus about $250,000 for the 2015-16 school year. The Hilliard district reached a final cost calculation of $185,000. Those districts are among many facing thousands of dollars in costs, The Columbus Dispatch reported.
The newspaper reported that the amount per credit hour that a district ends up paying can depend on where the student takes classes, who teaches them, and the deals the district can cut with colleges.
Districts are able to negotiate with colleges on the price of tuition and textbooks.
While the state education department pays the cost rather than the districts, it deducts the amount from each district’s per-pupil state funding.
Westerville schools reported that they spent a little under $70,000 last year on the College Credit Plus program. Officials at the Dublin district said college textbooks cost about $25,000 last year.
These figures are numbers that some local district treasurers reported to The Dispatch. The education department won’t have last year’s final College Credit Plus numbers until late this month because districts are still confirming the data.
School groups have said the program — which allows students to accumulate up to 30 college credit hours — is too expensive, and are advocating for financially able parents to assume some of the cost.
According to Aaron Rausch, director of school funding for the education department, local school officials can set up their program in a way that lowers the cost.
“My sense in talking to (district) treasurers is that they have worked over the year to strike better agreements that were more fair and equitable,” he said.