Advanced Placement backers look for funds

Future funding is uncertain for a three-year program designed to expand Advanced Placement programs at Fruita Monument and Grand Junction high schools.

Colorado Legacy Schools will find out this summer if program expansion will receive grants for its second year. Fruita Monument and Grand Junction were selected along with five other high schools in the state to participate in the Colorado Legacy Schools program.

Colorado Legacy Schools, a project of the nonprofit, privately funded Colorado Legacy Foundation, needs about $100,000 per year per school to fully fund the program, according to Legacy Schools Director Samantha Long.

The expansion program has no funding for next school year, Long said, but she hopes success from the first year will prove to donors the program is worth funding.

With or without a budget, leaders at each school plan to keep enrolling record numbers of students in a variety of Advanced Placement classes.

“We’ve been successful without incentives, and we’ll continue to be successful,” Grand Junction High School Principal Jon Bilbo said.

The foundation was unable to secure funding that had been expected this past August from the federal Race to the Top program.

The foundation was able to fund teacher training last summer through donations, and District 51 helped procure business donations to pay exam fees for low-income students and support incentive pay for students who scored 3 or better on Advanced Placement tests this spring, according to Bilbo.

The highest score students can achieve on a test is 5.

Students will get their scores this summer, when they will receive $100 per student for each qualifying score, Bilbo said. Teachers were also supposed to receive monetary incentives for helping students achieve high scores, but Bilbo said the district is likely to spend incentive funding on students instead.

Former Fruita Monument High School Principal Jody Mimmack said the Legacy program paid for the school’s new AP Physics class and paid for national trainers to come to Mesa County and train local AP teachers last fall. Even though Legacy wasn’t able to fund every aspect of program expansion, the school still increased enrollment by 68 percent year over year, giving more students a chance to earn college credit, Mimmack said.

“The goal of the programming worked, to get more kids exposed to AP programming,” she said.

Bilbo said Grand Junction High School, which expanded AP enrollment by 41 percent year over year, set a goal of getting every AP student to take at least one AP exam and to have all of them score 3 or higher. He knows the first goal will not be met this year because testing is over and some students opted out of taking a test. But Bilbo hopes the second goal will be achieved when scores are returned in July.

High scores could help the Legacy cause, Long said.

“Before, we could just tell (grant providers) AP enrollment went up. This summer, we’ll be able to show how scores were affected,” she said.


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