By Vernon Robison
Moapa Valley Progress
Submitted July 16, 2008
Moapa Valley High School Principal, Grant Hanevold, was stunned earlier this month when he heard the news from administrators at the College of Southern Nevada (CSN). Facing deep state-wide budget cuts amounting to more than $28 million over the next two years, CSN announced that it would be closing six satellite centers beginning June 30, 2009. One of the centers targeted to be closed is the Moapa Valley site.
“I don’t think that you can print what my initial reaction was to that news when I heard it,” Hanevold said.
Hanevold has spent the past year forging a stronger partnership between MVHS and the local CSN center. He has worked with administrators from the Clark County School District (CCSD) as well as from CSN in expanding a fledgling dual credit program at CSN. This program offers college courses to MVHS students. The courses can be taken by MVHS juniors and seniors and scheduled as part of their regular school day.
Hanevold calls it the “Post-secondary Pirate” program. He had envisioned the program as the remedy for a falling trend on the number of MVHS graduates going on to college. Over the past eight years, the rate of MVHS seniors that go on to college has remained flat at around 60%. During that same period the CCSD, as a whole, has seen that statistic rise from 45% to 70%. That has left MVHS ranked at #19 out of 38 high schools in the district. And, yet, MVHS still sits at the 3rd highest in the district for Honors Diploma graduates.
“The question has been, where is the disconnect,” Hanevold said. “What aren’t we doing.”
Hanevold feels that the answer is to utilize the nearby CSN center. Allow students to pick up 15-20 college credits during their last two years of high school. Then, with over a semester and a half of college credits beneath their belt before even leaving high school, students will be encouraged to continue on to college, Hanevold hopes.
The program has been greeted with enthusiasm by local students. Enrollment in the program has increased dramatically for the upcoming 2008-2009 school year. Last year, the program saw only 27 student course selections with two classes being offered. In the upcoming year, there are already 121 course selections registered with five classes being offered during the school schedule. Hanevold estimates that about 25% of MVHS juniors and seniors are planning to participate in the program next year. And the registration period is not yet over.
“With this program in place, I’ve seen kids really excited about going to school next year,” said MVHS Counselor, Stephanie Howard. “This program has just begun to pick up momentum. The community has also been involved. People and businesses have been willing to offer scholarships of books and supplies to make it work. I can see that it has tremendous potential.”
To be clear, closure of the Moapa Valley facility won’t happen until the 2009-2010 school year. Classes offered for the upcoming year will still continue as planned. But, according to Hanevold, that will be just long enough to get the program into high gear before it has to close down. “Closing of this facility will be a huge blow for the MVHS community,” he said.
Hannevold believes that the Moapa Valley campus was hastily selected for closure because CSN officials were not fully aware of what its potential was going to be. “My guess is that they aren’t aware of what is going on here, what is about to happen,” Hanevold said. “They can only see the past data on enrollment, but they can’t see what the future holds. I think that if they took a close look at this program and the plans; and where it is headed; they might think twice about it.”
Even so, the past data on enrollment at the Moapa Valley center has been nothing to be ashamed of, according to Logandale resident, John Pulver. Pulver is a full-time professor at CSN and he serves as Chairman of the CSN Moapa Valley Advisory Board.
Pulver points out that CSN recently put a significant investment into a developing large campus in Mesquite. The Mesquite center has a much larger budget to work with and three times the staff, Pulver said. Despite this, the Moapa Valley center is not far behind the Mesquite center in its enrollment.
“On the average our enrollment here has been 80% of what they have in Mesquite,” Pulver said. “And we have 10,000 less population in the community. We have been producing nearly what the other center is producing with only a third of their staff.”
Hanevold makes the claim that, if the Post-secondary Pirates program is given another year, the Moapa center would probably beat the Mesquite center in its enrollment.
The local CSN center operates on a small budget of about $58,000. About 65% of that budget is spend to pay the salary of its administrator, April Krell. The rest pays for general operating expenses and office supplies for the facility.
Krell handles nearly all of the administrative tasks needed to run the facility. She is a counselor, recruiter, advisor, registrar, financial aid officer and secretary all rolled into one. Krell has worked with Hanevold and has also been instrumental in the “Post-secondary Pirates” program. “It would definitely be unfortunate to be closing the center just at the point of getting a whole new set of students on board,” Krell said. “But even if it is closed, the college will still have to continue to service this community.”
Krell says that this service might come through a renewed emphasis in online courses and possibly with classes in Mesquite. But she admits that, with the closing of the local center, registration among MVHS students as well as local residents are likely to plummet. “I think that we’ll see a drop all the way across the board,” she said.
Hanevold agrees. “The kids that are interested in taking college courses are also the kids that are heavily involved in sports and band and everything else the school has to offer,” Hanevold said. “They can’t do all of that and drive to evening classes in Mesquite. If they have to choose, the kids will choose football or other activities over college accounting courses. That is just a fact.”