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District Considers Middle College

The Sonora Union High School District trustees Tuesday evening will discuss a plan to establish a “Middle College.”

The cutting edge program, to be located on the Columbia College campus, allows high school juniors and seniors to get college level classes and credits while still attending high school.

Columbia College President Jim Riggs said working out all the details and arriving at a final agreement between the two school districts has taken a lot of work.

He said there are only 15 other Middle College programs like it in California, mostly in urban areas. He says having a program such as this in a rural region, such as Tuolumne County, is unusual.

“What we´re finding is some challenges in working with the smaller school districts,” Riggs explained. “It´s even more acute in our area where we are having a decline in the number of students under the age of 18.

This poses a funding problem, he said. “The rural schools, which are grossly under funded anyway, and are trying to struggle with keeping students. It´s hard to develop a program where they´re not going to lose any revenue if (their students) come out here to the college,” Riggs said.

College representatives have met with Sonora Union High School District Superintendent Rob Gaskill and their attorney over the past year to draft a workable plan.

It looks like the new cooperative program between the college and the high school district is finally coming together.

“We´re real confident that we´ve come up with some plans which we are hoping to implement (at the college) a year from this fall,” Riggs said

The Sonora Union High School district trustees meet at the Sonora High School library Tuesday beginning at 6 p.m.