When Cynthia Kendrick read yesterday morning that her eighth-grade daughter could graduate from high school with two tuition-free years of college under her belt, the West Toledo mother ran for the phone.
She was among nearly 25 people who contacted Toledo Public Schools yesterday morning after The Blade reported the school district would allow students to receive a high school diploma and an associate's degree from the University of Toledo during the same four years.
"It's very interesting, and the plan is for her to go to college because she definitely can make the grades," Ms. Kendrick said.
Officials from the school district and the university detailed the "Early College High School" program during a news conference yesterday.
One hundred of the district's freshmen will be chosen to attend classes at UT's Scott Park campus. Each year for four years, an additional freshman class will be added, Superintendent Eugene Sanders said.
Joanne Keatley, executive secretary at the school district, said parents began calling early yesterday. "The first call was from a parent outside our school district," she said. "They just want more information."
Mr. Sanders said the program would be a recruitment and retention tool for the district, which has been steadily losing students to charter schools.
Dan Johnson, president of UT, said he anticipates the competition for the program to be intense.
"We believe it's going to have a major impact on the lucky young people in the program," he said.
It will be funded by a $400,000 grant from the KnowledgeWorks Foundation. Part of the grant requires that preference be given to first-generation college students, those of poverty, and students historically under-represented at universities, which would be minorities and students with limited English skills.
Similar programs exist in Dayton, Youngstown, and Elyria, Ohio. Deborah Howard, program director for KnowledgeWorks, said Ohio eventually will lead the nation with 10 early college programs.
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