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Principal lobbies for student Pell Grants

The head of CMSD’s Bard High School Early College Cleveland is in Washington this week, lobbying for legislation that would make students in Bard’s college-level classes eligible for federal student financial aid.

Dumaine Williams and other representatives of the Ohio Early College Association will urge legislators to support the Go to High School, Go to College Act of 2015. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Rep. Marcia Fudge, a Warrensville Heights Democrat, are among the sponsors.

Bard High School Early College, which opened last year, allows students to seamlessly earn both a high school diploma and associate of arts degree in four years. High school courses form a foundation for college-level study. High school teachers are also considered to be part of the adjunct faculty at Bard College of New York. 

The legislation would qualify students to receive Pell Grants for transferrable college courses taken at Bard and other high school programs accredited for college study. That would provide a solid stream of revenue for Bard, which has depended on foundations to supplement money from CMSD.

When he visited Cleveland last September, Bard College President Leon Botstein expressed hope that the school’s students could someday qualify for federal student financial aid. He called outside support critical to starting and sustaining early college high schools.

Williams said early college high schools are deserving of the same support that goes to community colleges.

“We have a very good track record in terms of our successes,” he said.

The Cleveland school is one of four of its kind in the country operated in conjunction with Bard College of New York and the first outside the college’s tri-state base of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The college will help open a fifth school next month in Baltimore.

Cleveland’s school has 265 students enrolled for the 2015-16 year, most of them in the ninth and 10th grades. The ninth grade is full with 120 students. Because of growth, the school, which was housed last year at the former Brooklawn School on Worthington Avenue, will move this summer to the former Carl F. Shuler School on Terminal Avenue.

The school requires students to apply for admission, go through an interview and complete a writing exercise. Bard does not set a minimum grade-point average but screens students to make sure they have passion and are up to the program’s challenges.