Walker Co. Schools using ESSER funding to pay for students’ college classes

Published: Feb. 3, 2023 at 8:59 PM CST
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WALKER COUNTY, Ala. (WBRC) - Students in the Walker County School District are getting a college education for free. The superintendent says they’re using COVID-19 or ESSER funding to help create a brighter future for their students.

“We offer this for academics and vocational and then we pay the whole bill: books, fees, and tuition,” said Superintendent Dr. Dennis Willingham. “We are a lower socioeconomic school district. We’re a rural district and a lot of our kids cannot afford college.”

Footing the college bill can pave the way for many students, according to the superintendent.

“We have so many kids who are first-generation college students,” he added. “Our goal is that they can start taking these college courses -- English 101, Basic Math, Psychology, your basic classes that you take your first and second year in college and by the time they graduate high school, they can walk across the stage and get a high school diploma and an associate’s degree at the same time.”

The district partners with Bevill State Community College.

Dr. Willingham says nearly 200 students are taking these dual enrollment classes and there are three ways they receive the education.

“We actually have teachers within our school that can teach college courses so these students already know these teachers,” explains Dr. Willingham. “They’re comfortable with them and so they take dual enrollment courses at their own school. Bevill State also will send a professor to the school for first block, second block -- whatever time’s convenient. The other way that our students are receiving dual enrollment is through online courses.”

The Walker County School System is also using that funding to pay for school supplies. This way, students only have to focus on learning instead of how or if they’ll have the supplies to do so.

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