Miscommunication in Dist. 205/RVC Running Start Program

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ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- There's confusion and miscommunication among some District 205 parents, administration and Rock Valley College. It all stems from the Running Start program where high school juniors and seniors attend RVC to earn dual credit and receive both a diploma and associate's degree by the end of high school. Some students who signed up for the program aren't getting what they were promised.

Auburn High School sophomore Abigail Reed has dreams of getting into the nursing field, but those dreams are being put on hold after receiving a letter in the mail from Rock Valley College. It says she's been selected as an alternate for RVC's Running Start Engineering program. The problem is Abigail signed up to get an Associate in Science, not Engineering.

"I was very disappointed, just really made me sad because I didn't get to go through with what I was planning on doing," said Reed.

Reed was contacted by Rock Valley in the Fall, saying she qualified for Running Start and had three choices, the Engineering program, an Associate of Arts or an Associate in Science.

"Then we contacted the district to find out what was going on," explains Abigail's mother, Cindi Reed, and she says the response she got from the district was 'I'm sorry.'

One of the issues is miscommunication among administrators. District 205 thought it only offered the Engineering program, when it also offered Science in the past. And Arts was never offered under the contract between RVC and District 205, even though the college offers Arts as part of its overall program with other school districts. The district says it doesn't offer Arts because it already offers a lot of those programs through RPS curriculum.

"We'll have to work to make sure that it's clearly articulated in our high school planning guide and insure counselors have the accurate information to share with students in advance. And part of it too is making sure Rock Valley College understands what our position is and what our intentions are with this program so there aren't mixed messages being sent," explained David Carson, executive director of College and Career Readiness.

Part of the mixed message also comes from Rock Valley College information on Running Start that is linked to the district's website. That information sheet lists the program options as offering Engineering, an Associate of Arts or an Associate in Science.

The district added the Associate in Science back to its Running Start program last week after realizing it in fact had offered it in the past. Students who signed up for science will be contacted about being accepted or being an alternate for that program.

Another issue is a new contract with RVC is currently in the works, so both RVC and the district are making decisions without knowing what exactly the program is going to look like next year. That contract is expected to be voted on by the school board in the next few weeks.

Another problem is the district had fewer than 30 students enroll in Running Start each year over the past two years. For next school year, 70 students qualified but they only budgeted for about 30. That means they can only take 15 new students.

The district says it's in the process of pursuing similar dual-credit partnerships with the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and Rasmussen College.

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