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Friday, August 19, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesSenate Bill May Expand UVI Academic Credits from Other Schools

Senate Bill May Expand UVI Academic Credits from Other Schools

Students in the territory will be able to take high school classes for dual high school/college credit and get some academic credit at the University of the Virgin Islands for past academic and life experience, if two bills from minority senators become law.

The Committee on Education and Workforce Development sent on a bill from Terrence "Positive" Nelson to create a dual credit program for high school students between UVI and the Department of Education.

Right now, the department offers advanced placement courses, which allow students to get some college credit during their senior year of high school, St. Croix Superintendent of Schools Gary Molloy testified. Molloy and UVI President David Hall both testified they supported the measure in principle, if there is funding.

"The department supports such programs because of the benefits they provide for the students," Molloy said, adding that it helps students become better prepared for college and to complete their degrees faster.

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"Our concerns are centered around the costs of the program," Molloy said. "First, it is not clear how UVI tuitions would be paid. And the bill states the schools would purchase textbooks. We do not currently have enough funds for textbooks for class and do not know where the funding would come from to supply these books," he said.

"Federal funding cannot be used for student tuition or textbooks, therefore additional funds would have to be appropriated locally," he said.

The committee adopted an amendment from Sen. Nereida "Nellie" Rivera-O’Reilly appropriating $50,000 from interest accrued on the government’s debt service reserve fund, and then it voted to send the amended bill on for consideration by the Rules and Judiciary Committee. O’Reilly, Sens. Judi Buckley, Tregenza Roach, Janette Millin Young and Donald Cole voted yea. Sens. Myron Jackson and Sammuel Sanes were absent.

The committee also approved and sent on a bill from O’Reilly mandating UVI set up a system to assess prior learning from other educational institutions and from work and other experience, and award academic credit, where the knowledge and skills meet UVI’s "course competencies."

Hall testified that other universities give such credit and that doing so would help more students graduate sooner, provided the program takes care to ensure the credits meet the requirements expected by most stateside universities. The committee approved the measure unanimously, with Jackson and Sanes absent.

The committee also voted to send on a bill, sponsored by Cole, that would take authority and responsibility to certify private technical and trade schools away from the Department of Education and place it instead with the Career and Technical Education Board.

Roach raised some concerns about whether it made sense to take the responsibility from Education, "which has thousands of employees" and much more money, and give it to a cash-strapped entity with only a handful of employees.

No one testified against the change. Representatives of the CTE Board, Board of Education and Department of Education all testified to the importance of private technical and trade schools, but did not comment at any length on the merits of having the CTE Board versus the Department of Education overseeing their certification.

The committee approved the bill with six yea votes and no opposition. Jackson was absent.

Another bill from O’Reilly, making the annual Morris F. DeCastro Fellowship entirely a grant, instead of a mix of grants and loans, was also sent on to Rules. The fellowship is awarded to two government employees – one in each district.

Funded by an annual $45,000 appropriation, the fellowship pays the salary, tuition, books, educational expense and airfare of the recipients. But under existing law, at least 50 percent of the proceeds are to be a loan rather than a grant. The change to a full grant was requested by the V.I. Board of Education. The bill also requires recipients to work in the U.S. Virgin Islands for at least three years upon completing their degrees.

The measure was approved without dissent, with Jackson and Sanes absent.

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Students in the territory will be able to take high school classes for dual high school/college credit and get some academic credit at the University of the Virgin Islands for past academic and life experience, if two bills from minority senators become law.

The Committee on Education and Workforce Development sent on a bill from Terrence "Positive" Nelson to create a dual credit program for high school students between UVI and the Department of Education.

Right now, the department offers advanced placement courses, which allow students to get some college credit during their senior year of high school, St. Croix Superintendent of Schools Gary Molloy testified. Molloy and UVI President David Hall both testified they supported the measure in principle, if there is funding.

"The department supports such programs because of the benefits they provide for the students," Molloy said, adding that it helps students become better prepared for college and to complete their degrees faster.

"Our concerns are centered around the costs of the program," Molloy said. "First, it is not clear how UVI tuitions would be paid. And the bill states the schools would purchase textbooks. We do not currently have enough funds for textbooks for class and do not know where the funding would come from to supply these books," he said.

"Federal funding cannot be used for student tuition or textbooks, therefore additional funds would have to be appropriated locally," he said.

The committee adopted an amendment from Sen. Nereida "Nellie" Rivera-O'Reilly appropriating $50,000 from interest accrued on the government's debt service reserve fund, and then it voted to send the amended bill on for consideration by the Rules and Judiciary Committee. O'Reilly, Sens. Judi Buckley, Tregenza Roach, Janette Millin Young and Donald Cole voted yea. Sens. Myron Jackson and Sammuel Sanes were absent.

The committee also approved and sent on a bill from O'Reilly mandating UVI set up a system to assess prior learning from other educational institutions and from work and other experience, and award academic credit, where the knowledge and skills meet UVI's "course competencies."

Hall testified that other universities give such credit and that doing so would help more students graduate sooner, provided the program takes care to ensure the credits meet the requirements expected by most stateside universities. The committee approved the measure unanimously, with Jackson and Sanes absent.

The committee also voted to send on a bill, sponsored by Cole, that would take authority and responsibility to certify private technical and trade schools away from the Department of Education and place it instead with the Career and Technical Education Board.

Roach raised some concerns about whether it made sense to take the responsibility from Education, "which has thousands of employees" and much more money, and give it to a cash-strapped entity with only a handful of employees.

No one testified against the change. Representatives of the CTE Board, Board of Education and Department of Education all testified to the importance of private technical and trade schools, but did not comment at any length on the merits of having the CTE Board versus the Department of Education overseeing their certification.

The committee approved the bill with six yea votes and no opposition. Jackson was absent.

Another bill from O'Reilly, making the annual Morris F. DeCastro Fellowship entirely a grant, instead of a mix of grants and loans, was also sent on to Rules. The fellowship is awarded to two government employees – one in each district.

Funded by an annual $45,000 appropriation, the fellowship pays the salary, tuition, books, educational expense and airfare of the recipients. But under existing law, at least 50 percent of the proceeds are to be a loan rather than a grant. The change to a full grant was requested by the V.I. Board of Education. The bill also requires recipients to work in the U.S. Virgin Islands for at least three years upon completing their degrees.

The measure was approved without dissent, with Jackson and Sanes absent.