Class is in session at the Community College of Vermont-- but not everyone is of typical college age.
"I am only sixteen and I just got my license and I just started college," said student Clay Reid. "It's definitely an early start but I feel like I was ready for it."
Reid is taking advantage of dual enrollment: free vouchers for college classes provided by the state to about 600 high school students. They can accumulate between 3 and 18 credits before they even graduate 12th grade.
"I figured an earlier start is better," Reid said of enrolling in the voucher program. "I had the opportunity to start early, so why not?"
The program costs about $400,000 annually. But it could soon grow. Governor Shumlin recently proposed doubling the budget and the opportunity, to 1,200 of the state's 6,500 high school seniors. While Vermont has a high high school graduation rate, it ranks lower than average for college matriculation.
"We're trying to attract businesses to Vermont and people are trying to bring businesses to Vermont," said Joyce Judy, the president of Community College of Vermont. "Vermont business people are crying ‘we need an educated work force.' So we've got to do something to help prepare the workforce."
But some lawmakers question the governor's payment plan. For two years the $800,000 will be covered by the state. After that, local municipalities must cover half.
"I think our responsibility in the ways and means committee is the education fund and that's K through 12 spending," said Dave Sharpe of the House Ways and Means Committee.
Sharpe says paying the price for higher education could mean higher property taxes -- which are already on the rise.
"We get very concerned when there are any kind of additional pressures on the education fund that would pressure us to go up instead of 5 cents, 6 cents or 7 cents," he said.
"A $400,000 investment to get more kids going to college is a pretty good investment in skills and building the workforce," said Joyce.
The cost of a course under this program would be $350 if taken at one of the twelve participating colleges, or $150 if taken at a participating high school.
Wednesday, March 12 2014 12:27 AM EDT2014-03-12 04:27:22 GMT
Town meeting day didn't bode well for dozens of school budgets across the state. Now the Burlington City Council is looking to cut costs after voters rejected school spending hikes. The council votedMore >>
Town meeting day didn't bode well for dozens of school budgets across the state. Now the Burlington City Council is looking to cut costs after voters rejected school spending hikes.More >>
Wednesday, March 12 2014 12:26 AM EDT2014-03-12 04:26:45 GMT
The Vermont Senate has loosened restrictions on the state's medical marijuana dispensaries. The bill passed Tuesday allows an unlimited number of qualified Vermonters to access medical marijuana -- removing theMore >>
The Vermont Senate has loosened restrictions on the state's medical marijuana dispensaries.More >>
Wednesday, March 12 2014 12:26 AM EDT2014-03-12 04:26:03 GMT
A St. George man is behind bars accused of stealing from an elderly South Burlington woman. 43-year-old Craig Dubuque was arrested for the alleged financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult. Police sayMore >>
A St. George man is behind bars accused of stealing from an elderly South Burlington woman.More >>
Tuesday, March 11 2014 11:35 PM EDT2014-03-12 03:35:07 GMT
"You know, people say you might not need it, which is true, but this way you get a choice. I don't have to go out tomorrow," said Lorinda Henry of Milton. Henry says she hit the grocery stores TuesdayMore >>
Parts of Vermont could get up to 24 inches of snow in the coming storm. And VTrans officials are warning drivers they may not be able to keep up with the storm rolling in Wednesday.More >>
Tuesday, March 11 2014 8:02 PM EDT2014-03-12 00:02:07 GMT
"Seems like it was just yesterday. Doesn't seem like it's been two years at all," said Glenda Reandeau of Tupper Lake. Residents of Tupper Lake still have their eyes out for Colin Gillis, a now 20-year-oldMore >>
Colin Gillis of Tupper Lake, N.Y., disappeared two years ago. And authorities are still searching for him. They say the investigation now focuses on tips from the public and from those who were the last to see Gillis.More >>
Tuesday, March 11 2014 6:17 PM EDT2014-03-11 22:17:43 GMT
A Rutland City Police officer is recovering at home after a crash involving his cruiser. Authorities say Officer Adam Lucia was one of two officers responding to an aggravated assault call Monday at TopsMore >>
A Rutland City Police officer is recovering at home after a crash involving his cruiser.More >>