College class offerings for Durango High School students will be much more accessible this fall when the newly renamed Pueblo Community College Southwest – formerly Southwest Colorado Community College - relocates to the high school building, in a separate wing.
The high school was built for 1,600 students and currently only 1,200 are enrolled, making it possible for the college to use a wing containing four classrooms and administrative and meeting areas.
Concurrent enrollment classes, which allow a high school student to earn college credits in college-level courses, will be close at hand. Students now travel to the Commons building at Camino del Rio and Seventh for classes.
According to Patty Erjavec, Pueblo Community College’s president, and Dan Snowberger, superintendent of Durango School District 9-R, who announced the specifics of the relocation at meetings this week (Herald, Mar. 7), 37 percent of PCCS’s students are concurrently enrolled Durango High School students.
College-level courses for a high school student are at no cost to the student, and often allow a student to complete a semester or more of college work before they begin their freshman year.
College-level academic standards are met in the concurrent classes. PCCS will continue to enroll students who are taking college courses for work-related reasons or who desire an associate’s two-year degree.
Classes will be delivered during the day, and for security reasons, the PCCS wing will be accessed from outside doors, isolated from the remainder of the high school building.
And, as a part of the expanded utilization of the high school, a joint child care facility is in the planning stage. It would be available for the young children of all high school and PCCS faculty, and students with children. The need for child care impacts many of Durango’s workplaces, and this center would, in at least a small way, help to address that need.
Delivering college-level courses under the same roof as high school classes makes very good sense. It is fortunate that the space is available, and that the leaderships of both 9-R and PCCS are eager to take advantage of the possibilities associated with the adjacent space.
As those knowledgeable about college attainment say, students who have had some exposure to college-level instruction are more likely to be successful when they reach a college campus. And, the school district makes the point that students who for one reason or another might not have the confidence to consider college are more likely to take that important step after being successful in a couple of college-level courses.
The only possible drawback to relocating PCCS from the Commons is that non-high school students, usually older and who in a few cases many not have had a positive experience at high school, could feel uncomfortable in the high school wing. That could deter some of the most promising students, those who are attending college with specific educational accomplishments in mind. PCCS will have to be alert to that category of students.
We look forward to this fall when DHS will be home to PCCS, giving a boost to college-bound students.