North Star Middle College expands from a program to a school

Published: Oct. 22, 2022 at 4:50 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The Fairbanks North Star Borough School District is expanding the North Star Middle College program. The changes will include adding student capacity in the program, and letting both juniors and seniors apply.

The North Star Middle College is a program that has allowed seniors to take specific courses that count as college courses, giving them a head start on their college careers while still working towards their high school diploma. The program has been around for about three years, during which student enrollment capacity has been very limited. But on Tuesday, Oct. 18 the school board voted to expand the program.

Part of this expansion will also change the status designation from a “program” to its own “school.” The North Star Middle College will be given a new status as a “school of choice” and will see a change in how it is funded since all of the students in the school will be accounted for in the state education budget. The other schools of choice currently in the district are Barnet Magnet School and Hutchison High School.

Previously the program was entirely funded by the school district - and during the school board meeting this past Tuesday, some individuals expressed a concern as to how the expansion and re-designation would impact the budget. Chief School Administrator, Karen Melin responded in an interview saying, “The district has been investing in the program for the last three years with the 40 students, and supporting those 40 students in a certain way - and that budget line item, that investment from the district will remain the same. There will be no increase in the support that is already being done in the budget.”

Students attending North Star Middle College will be able to earn up to 15 credits per semester that should be transferable according to Melin. Students will spend most of their time in a designated space on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus. The concept of the program is to allow those students to have a soft transition into college academics.

There are other middle colleges across the state such as the Alaska Middle College, which is part of the Anchorage School District.

In order to apply, students be a junior or senior in high school and have a grade point average of at least 2.5. If a student’s application is accepted, they will then be put into a lottery to join North Star Middle College.