Concurrent enrollment point of concern for SEARK

Southeast Arkansas College President Stephen Hilterbran said he is frustrated with the University of Arkansas Monticello for its concurrent enrollment partnership with White Hall School District.

Hilterban said that concurrent enrollment partnerships are beneficial but he wishes the two-year institution did not have to compete with four-year universities from farther away for the same high school students, noting the 65-mile distance between White Hall and Monticello.

“Whenever a university or college comes into our area, that worries us,” Hilterbran said during a

SEARK Board of Trustees meeting Wednesday. “We were trying to get our memorandum of understanding signed with White Hall last year.”

SEARK is offering eight credit hours to White Hall High School students, whereas UAM is offering 36 credit hours, Hilterbran said. Concurrent enrollment means that high school students take courses that count as credit toward high school and college. The law requires teachers to hold a master’s degree with at least 18 credit hours in the specified discipline that they are teaching.

“We are worried about schools coming into our service area and offering classes,” Hilterbran said. “This is not about White Hall. This is about other colleges and universities coming into a city of town that has been served by so many years by another college. … This is becoming a statewide problem with institutions infringing.”

The White Hall School District has concurrent enrollment agreements with Southeast Arkansas College dating back 15 years, said Dorothy Welch, White Hall assistant superintendent.

“As far as I am concerned, there are no problems,” Welch said. “We do not have a dog in the hunt. Our kids sign up wherever they want.

“The parents and students choose the university or college,” Welch said. “We have a positive rapport with Southeast Arkansas College.

“We have invited SEARK to campus to set up a booth at the start of school,” Welch said. “We do everything we can to encourage a positive relationship with SEARK.”

University of Arkansas at Monticello has concurrent enrollment agreements with about 35 to 40 school districts throughout Arkansas, said Ranelle Eubanks, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs.

“We have the same agreement with White Hall as we do with any other district,” Eubanks said. “We did not solicit White Hall or any district. White Hall approached us about concurrent enrollment.

“If we are encroaching on SEARK’s space, then we are encroaching on the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff’s space,” Eubanks said.

To be eligible for concurrent enrollment, high school students must score at least a 19 on the ACT (SAT equivalent of 460 in math, 470 in English and 470 in reading). The student needs a letter from the high school principal, two inoculations and a copy of their high school transcript.

Phone calls placed to the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff were not returned by press time.