In the News
NH creates Career Academy at community colleges
Seacoast Online By Hadley Barndollar
PORTSMOUTH - Students in New Hampshire will now be able to simultaneously achieve a high school diploma, associate’s degree and industry credential -- what Gov. Chris Sununu hailed Friday as a model both regionally and nationally.
At Great Bay Community College’s campus at Pease International Tradeport, Sununu was joined by Department of Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut and Ross Gittell, chancellor of the state’s community college system, as the trio signed a memorandum of understanding establishing the New Hampshire Career Academy program, a public charter school embedded into community college campuses.
The NHCA is modeled after the work of Dean Graziano, former extended learning opportunity coordinator for the Rochester School District. Graziano created a program with Great Bay Community College for Spaulding High School seniors, allowing them to complete their high school requirements for graduation while simultaneously earning 30 college credits and attaining an Advanced Composite Manufacturing certificate.
The program put students on a career pathway with one of Rochester’s premiere employers -- Albany/Saffron. In its second year, the program received funding from Albany/Safran, Federal Savings Bank, Profile Bank, Waterstone Retail, MyTurn, McDonalds/Napoli Group, Home Depot and Timberland.
As of Friday, the program is now launching statewide, and will serve as a “seamless connection and warm hand-off” for students into New Hampshire’s economy, Sununu said.
Sununu first announced the formation of the NHCA during his inaugural address in January.
“I think that this type of program really illustrates the innovative nature of New Hampshire,” Edelblut said, adding every student is paired with an industry partner over the course of their education and will be guaranteed a job interview upon graduation.
Participation in the NHCA is at no cost to the student, and funding will be derived from the state-designated student adequacy payments as authorized by the Legislature for state-approved charter schools, based on the number of students participating in the NHCA. It’s also expected that industry partners will provide additional financial support for the program. Per the DOE, the NHCA would receive approximately $7,300 per student in state money. School districts will tuition students to the academy, but retain their full state adequacy and local education funding.
Each CCSNH campus will have an MOU with student home districts that will still allow students to participate in athletic and other non-academic activities.
Gittell said the NHCA is a pathway to provide “opportunities for students to advance their careers right here in New Hampshire.” During Sununu’s tenure as governor, much focus has been placed on workforce development, as historically, the Granite State has struggled to retain young people. Many seek their secondary educations out-of-state, and ultimately, never return.
Sununu said Friday that New Hampshire’s economy is “booming” and millennials are beginning to move back into the state. The NHCA, he said, is an important addition to that growth.
He called the signing of the NHCA MOU an “incredibly proud moment,” and a way to achieve better results for students and families.
The NHCA, Sununu said, capitalizes on public/private partnerships -- “an absolute win-win” where businesses have “skin in the game.”