OUR VIEW: City students better served with Bevill donation

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Bevill State Community College has asked the Jasper City Council to give the college a one-time payment of $100,000 and increase its annual contribution to the college from $50,000 to $60,000.

Yes, that's a lot of dough in the cookie jar. But it is worth it. 

"This contribution will support the College's plan and commitment to expand dual-enrollment work force and career technical programs for the benefit of Jasper City High School students in preparing them for high wage, high demand careers," Bevill State President Joel Hagood said in a March 2 letter to the city. 

"We want to assure you that any funds not expended for dual-enrollment workforce training will be used in coordination with the City of Jasper's High School leadership (Principal and Guidance Counselor) to support programs for dual-enrollment academic courses for socio-economically disadvantaged students. The College plans to designate funds for these specific purposes," Hagood wrote. 

The college has reached agreement with Jasper High School to provide dual enrollment to Jasper students involving technical education courses. The college has the funds to give scholarships to all participants to cover tuition.

"The reason they ask for a one-time gift of $100,000 is they want to build a reserve, if they fell into proration, so they could pay the tuition for the young folks who want to go into those programs," Mayor David O'Mary told the council March 12.  

The result would be students would be assured of the opportunity to almost have enough hours with their high school diploma to finish out an associate degree for a technical trade. A few more hours, they would have an incredible chance at jobs which pay far more than many jobs one works for at four-year universities. 

We have seen how the state and schools have sometimes had to deal with proration. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have fared better than expected, but it would be good one-time insurance to make sure our students are prepared in the right manner for the jobs that are more available and advantageous for the next generation of students. 

Moreover, you may recall in November, attorney Charles Tatum made an impassioned plea for the city to do more so high school students not waste their time, but to be "one step away" from being certified for a meaningful job, instead of working at low-wage retail jobs. 

This is a chance to help in that effort, utilizing the major institution which can make that happen for students, including those from low-income homes. We are all but guaranteeing tech education opportunities for a whole new generation.

We not only approve of this, but we understand talks are also underway with the county. We hope something can also be worked out with rural students across Walker County, as they deserve similar opportunities. 

--Daily Mountain Eagle