This year, 86 Bethel students graduated from high school on the one hand and an associate’s degree on the other, said Superintendent Tom Seigel.
This number is expected to increase for Bethel Schools in the future with the opening of Pierce College in Spanaway.
For the first time this fall, students at Spanaway Lake High School can take free college-level classes during the day without having to leave campus, saving thousands of dollars in tuition fees. A five credit course at Pierce College costs approximately $ 600.
“Children who have problems with transportation or money to attend college can do so while they are still in their home high school,” Seigel said at an opening ceremony on Tuesday.
Seigel said the area’s bus system is lacking and transportation is a barrier for students interested in Running Start or getting college credit before graduation.
Called “neighborhood college” by Pierce College, classrooms are located in a laptop on the Spanaway Lake High School campus.
Classes are also available for working adults seeking a college degree.
There are 28 students registered for the courses, with a capacity of 216, said Deb Davolio, program manager for Pierce College. Courses offered include College Success, English Composition 1, Research Essentials, and Introduction to Statistics.
“These are the four courses that almost everyone must take to embark on one of the paths to a degree,” Davolio said. “We will increase the capacity as we go. “
By the winter term, the goal is to add courses in humanity and science.
Spanaway Lake High School is the second ward of Pierce College, also in the Bethel School District. Evening classes are offered at Graham-Kapowsin High School, with about 50 percent high school students and 50 percent adults among the approximately 125 students enrolled.
Officials hope the “neighborhood college” can be a model for other districts in the state.
Pierce County Director Bruce Dammeier said Tuesday that 37.5% of Pierce County’s population has at least a two-year degree, which is behind King, Snohomish, Thurston and Kitsap counties.
“We know that good, family-paying jobs require training beyond high school, and we know that in Pierce County we are behind in their production,” Dammeier said.
Already Pierce College and Bethel Schools are discussing opening another model at the new Bethel High School, Pierce College Chancellor Michele Johnson said.
“We would love to have a full campus with them as a full pilot,” Johnson said.
The campus would probably consist of around four classrooms to begin with.
“It’s not the same world it was 20, 30, 40 years ago,” Johnson said. “Now it’s so essential to have an education or training beyond high school. ”