The Broadalbin-Perth Central School District has landed a $465,832 grant from the state that will allow it to offer in-house Advanced Placement courses for the first time since 2006.
The district will offer six AP courses starting next school year. Students will be able to take the courses for local college credit and in preparation for the AP exam.
The classes will be offered to high school students only through a single course taught by one teacher at the school. Students will access the AP curriculum using laptops, WiFi and other advanced technology. Teachers will create online curriculum based on traditional AP curriculum, which is normally taught in the classroom. “We estimate more than 100 kids will take the AP classes next year,” said Michele Kelley, school district spokeswoman.
Broadalbin-Perth was one of five school districts in the state to receive the grant through the state Education Department’s Virtual Advanced Placement Program. It is the only school district in Fulton and Montgomery counties offering the virtual AP courses.
The district will use the grant to pay to train teachers on using the AP curriculum and teaching in a virtual environment.
It will also use the grant to purchase laptops for each participating student and the teacher; to install SmartBoards (a high-tech projection system) and wireless Internet access points in each virtual AP classroom; and to purchase e-textbooks and other learning materials for the virtual AP classes. It also will pay the $89 fee for students to take the AP test at the end of the school year.
Kelley said the grant is the only way the district could provide the enhanced educational programming as it struggles to deal with the state imposed tax cap and dwindling financial resources.
“The Board of Education has been aggressive about seeking alternative funding sources. It is the only way we will be able to offer these extras for the kids,” she said.
Broadalbin-Perth stopped offering AP courses when enrollment in them declined and the district began to face budgetary pressures. “When we did offer them, there was limited enrollment. Near the end, there were only two or three AP courses being offered,” Kelley said.
Students often take AP courses as a means to enhance their chances of getting into an elite college or university, Kelley said. “Because we do not offer AP, it hurts their chances of getting in.”
The district continues to offer extensive college-elective courses, which are transferable. Broadalbin-Perth has college course offerings through Fulton-Montgomery Community College, Syracuse University’s Project Advance and the University in the High School through UAlbany.
“Those programs work with most kids. One student went to Syracuse with sophomore standing and another already had an associate’s degree” after graduating from high school, Kelley said.
The state grant is for 20 months, but the district is already planning on continuing the AP program and even enhancing it in coming years.
“We are front-loading a lot of the professional development to allow teachers to teach other teachers,” she said. “The bulk of the district’s obligation will be to replace broken or obsolete computers,” she said.