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Menahga School discusses college classes options

With the College in the High School (CIHS) program, the student receives both college and high school credit for the course. In the Post Secondary Education Option (PSEO), a student may leave campus or attend the college course online.

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Menahga School
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The Menahga School Board reflected on the district’s college classes at their Sept. 12 work session.

With the College in the High School (CIHS) program, the student receives both college and high school credit for the course.

In the Post Secondary Education Option (PSEO), a student may leave campus or attend the college course online.

Superintendent Jay Kjos reviewed data from the 2021-22 school year. Menahga High School juniors and seniors took and passed 207 CIHS courses. Only one failed. The cost to the school district is $250 for the teacher per course and the designated curriculum, if not provided.

On the other hand, 504 PSEO courses were taken, but 63 failed. The cost per credit is $184 to $220 for tuition, plus varying student fees and books. Last year, the district paid approximately $270,000 to M State for tuition, according to Kjos.

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Last year, there were 18 full-time PSEO students taking 10 to 12 credits per semester. There were 23 part-time PSEO students, taking two to 10 credits.

Kjos said he has no intention of taking PSEO away, but he asked the school board to think about “What is our goal as far as students earning college credits? And how can we help them get more credits at a higher success rate?”

He noted that three PSEO students enrolled in a full-time Career Tech & Education program last year.

Tiffany Besonen and Bruce Bolton, both of whom teach CIHS at Menahga, were present.

Menahga currently offers about 20 CIHS courses.

Compared to PSEO, Besonen said, “I can tell you one of the differences – it’s still rigorous – is we see them five days a week. We see them in person, which is great for questions, of course. And then we see them longer.”

Kjos said any high school student can take a CIHS class, if the right class is offered.

Board chair Andrea Haverinen expressed concern that by adding more CIHS, “even if it’s keeping more students here,” there would not be “enough students per class, especially when our high school enrollment is lower than it used to be.”

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Kjos agreed. Any growth would be slow and incremental, he said.

Bolton said, “I think in-person, to second what Mr. Kjos said, is just far above. If we can keep them here and offer a wide menu of in-person, we’re much better off and they are, too.”

Board member Cherie Peterson asked about the PSEO versus CIHS dropout rate, especially if the district has already paid for the course. “What’s the repercussions?”

Kjos said every university has a different criteria for dropouts and if the student meets that threshold, “it’s a permanent ding on that student’s transcript at the college.”

Noting that 63 failures at $140 per class is $14,000 that the district paid for the student to fail, Board member Katie Howard commented that PSEO takes parents out of the equation, and the school as well. For example, Howard can’t check on her daughter’s grades and the district can’t tell her what they are.

Board member David Treinen said his third-year college student is 1.5 years ahead of his peers, thanks to CIHS. In his second year, Treinen’s son got an internship with Bobcat “because of how far ahead he was because of those classes.”

Board member Helen Lehto said speech was the only class accepted by her son’s college.

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Shannon Geisen is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
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