SALT LAKE CITY — High school students around the state will have the option of earning an associate degree from Snow College through concurrent enrollment if a bill advanced by a House committee Wednesday becomes law.
SB38, sponsored by Sen. Ralph Okerlund, R-Monroe, has been approved by the Senate and, following Wednesday's committee hearing, will go before the Utah House for final passage.
The bill would establish the Snow College Concurrent Enrollment Program and provide a track for high school students seeking an associate degree through interactive video conferencing and advisory support.
"There has been frustration over the years on the declining opportunity for students to receive an associate degree, especially in the rural areas," Beaver County School District Superintendent Ray Terry said. "Snow College would guarantee a two-year rotation of classes that would give our students an opportunity to work toward an associate degree."
The program would not be limited to students in rural areas but would be open to any Utah high school student, Okerlund said. The program could provide supplementary classes to the concurrent enrollment students receive in their school district or as a stand-alone program to pursue a degree while in high school, he said.
"It really goes a long way toward the governor’s (postsecondary degree) initiative," Okerlund said.
Debate on the bill was relatively brief, but Rep. Val Peterson, R-Orem, asked whether Snow efforts would disrupt or interfere with existing concurrent enrollment programs offered by Utah's public colleges and universities.
"Do you have support of the system?" Peterson asked.
Terry responded that the program would serve as a "stopgap," offering additional courses to students who are not otherwise able to complete the requirements of an associate degree in their local programs.
"We would not be infringing on the current relationships between higher (education) institutions and their school districts," he said.