FORT WALTON BEACH — Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Worldwide will continue to operate programs at two local schools despite concerns raised earlier in the year.
The Okaloosa County School Board voted unanimously to approve an agreement with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Institutes at Choctawhatchee and Crestview high schools following a brief discussion Monday night.
“We are thrilled to be a part of this and thank you for the opportunity,” said Ron Garriga, who will serve as the director of local program.
The future of the contract was thrown into question in March after School Board members expressed concern about not only the enrollment in the program since Worldwide took over the contract from Daytona in 2010, but the seeming lack of college credits students could earn.
For the upcoming school year, Garriga said Embry-Riddle expects to have 200 students enrolled and hopes the program’s popularity will increase with changes it is implementing to focus more on hands-on learning.
It has 170 students confirmed as of Tuesday. That’s 54 more students than last year, Garriga said Tuesday.
Under the new contract, 10th-, 11th- and 12th-graders at Choctaw and Crestview can enroll in a variety of college level courses in the aviation field as long as they have a 2.5 GPA and two teacher recommendations.
Classes will have 10 to 30 students except for the Federal Aviation Administration Private Pilot Ground School certification program, which will max out at 25 students.
No matter what school or major a student decides to pursue in college, any courses taken will count at least as an elective credit, Garriga said.
If students choose to attend any of the Embry-Riddle college campuses, including Daytona, the credit will count for the actual course taken and not just as an elective, he said.
Under the new contract, the school district will be responsible for paying $413 per student and the schools will pay $562 per student rather than a flat rate as in the past.
The district also will be responsible for purchasing textbooks, Garriga said.
“Money’s important, but I think this board is really concerned about ... enrollment,” Chairman Rodney Walker said. “ … I’m tickled to death with the price, but really, if you end up with nothing it doesn’t matter what the price is, you still have nothing.”
Board member Cathy Thigpen requested that Garriga give an update to the board in December.
Contact Northwest Florida Daily News Staff Writer Katie Tammen at 850-315-4440 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @KatieTnwfdn.