Faculty members of Elon University and Alamance-Burlington School System representatives have elected to delay the opening of an early college high school program originally intended to begin fall 2011. An exploratory committee consisting of Elon and ABSS faculty and administrators will further study potential collaborations between the university and the public school system and develop a report for spring.

The original fall 2011 deadline did not provide the exploratory committee enough time to resolve significant concerns, prompting the members of the committee to delay the early college high school, he said.

"We have worked on this to the extent that the timeline now has passed us by," Francis said.

The distinction between private and public school system policies and social experiences generated discussion during an information meeting last spring.

Furthermore, questions regarding how many students can enroll in the early college high school caused the exploratory committee to further review the program, according to Francis.

"Everyone involved with this project wants to take the time to develop a quality, long-lasting concept for this community," said Lillie Cox, superintendent of the Alamance-Burlington School System. "Developing course offerings and class and student schedules takes a great deal of lead time and involves numerous education professionals; developing a brand-new school concept takes even more."

An early college high school would allow high school students in the Alamance-Burlington School System to attend classes at Elon University, providing those seeking an academic challenge with higher-level classes, said Gerald Francis, executive vice president and a member of the exploratory committee, in a previous interview with The Pendulum. Similar programs are available at Guilford College, UNC-Greensboro and N.C. State.

"Alamance County is a smaller county," Francis said. "Alamance County is a diversified county in its clientele, and our students don't have as many opportunities for advancement as other nearby counties do."

An early college would provide local high school students with academic opportunities not currently available, Francis said.

While Elon and ABSS have not realized an early college high school program, members of the exploratory committee are presently looking at other models of coordinated academic programs for Alamance County high school students. One idea includes an expansion of the Credit Bank Program, which allows high school seniors to take a course and receive college credit from Elon during the fall and spring semesters.

"We'll take that Credit Bank that we currently have and expand it like that and then see if that doesn't lead us to finally doing the early college high school," Francis said. "But I'll bet that we'll have to do that for a couple of years before finalizing an early college high school program."

The exploratory committee originally intended for the early college high school program to include 30 students per class, but members of the committee questioned if the school could potentially serve more, Francis said.

"Are we doing enough to impact all six of the high schools in the county strongly enough?" Francis said about the initiative.

Although Francis does not foresee an early college high school in the near future, members of Alamance County have responded to the idea.

"Many individuals have expressed their support for an early college concept for our district, including community members, parents and students," Cox said. "We look forward to making this become a reality for Alamance County students"