College course offerings will be expanded at Lenape Valley Regional High School, enhancing student success and saving their parents money on tuition.
Lenape Valley Regional High School Superintendent Michael Rossi and school board member Rich Kuncken told the the Stanhope Township Council at the council’s Sept. 28 meeting that the district is expanding the types of courses students can choose in high school through partnering with institutions of higher education. Currently, Rossi said, Lenape Valley has 13 courses that count toward both high school and college credits.
The program is for students who want to pursue an associate’s degree, or enter college as a junior when they graduate from high school, Rossi said. Currently, Lenape Valley is working with Sussex County Community College and Centenary University to develop courses, and has reached out to Drew University, Fairleigh Dickinson University, and St. Elizabeth University.
Rossi said they are trying to prepare students to be job ready. They are also working with the New Jersey Department of Education to develop “Mini-Pathways,” allowing students to graduate from high school with a minor. Current plans are to include architecture, marketing, and broadcast journalism, with introductory, middle, and upper-level coursework and practical training.
An outside consultant from the New Jersey School Board Association will come to Lenape Valley on Oct. 25, Dec. 16, and Jan. 26 to help develop a strategic plan for students with trends, challenges, goals, visions, action plans, student achievement, and community connection, Rossi said.
They will also stay connected with their alumni association, he said. Current students will be able to speak with alumni remotely, tapping into their expertise as professionals in medicine, carpentry, or technology.
School board member Rich Kuncken said they attended the council meeting that night to reconnect the school and community. He said they had held their budget at the 2 percent property tax cap for many years. Five years ago and this current year, Kuncken said, they held their budget to a one percent tax increase.
Kuncken said they have been able, without a referendum, to complete school additions, repairs, and upgrades because of students from other districts attending Lenape Valley using the school choice program.
Offering the college-level courses leads both to student success and financial savings for parents, Kuncken said. That’s because, he said, students “figure out they don’t like something in high school instead of wasting $20K finding that out in college.”