Ensuring a skilled workforce

Published 9:08 am Friday, April 24, 2015

The world becomes more competitive every day, and our students need an equally competitive education so that they have a chance at a bright future.

We don’t know much about the jobs of the future, but we do know that they’ll require more education than the jobs of today. Thus, it’s vital that we provide our students with opportunities to enter the workforce with the necessary skills to succeed. As such, I’m pleased to announce that the Niles Middle College Program has been approved.

For those who may not be aware, the Niles Middle College Program is designed and delivered through a collaborative partnership between Niles Community Schools and Lake Michigan College. This partnership provides a five year path to high school graduation and the means to accumulate considerable college credit, career skills, employer and state recognized career specific credentials, and/or a certificate from the Michigan Early Middle College Association (MEMCA). Simply put, this program will allow students an opportunity to earn college credits from Lake Michigan College while simultaneously earning high school credit from Niles Community Schools.

The Niles Middle College is based on an open entrance grade 11 through grade 13 model. Students will complete a nine and 10 grade college readiness curriculum and then apply to register for college credits. Students who receive a qualifying score on either the SAT or COMPASS test, and meet the eligibility requirements that are established by LMC will be registered for postsecondary credits obtained through a variety of methods, including: dual enrollment, enhanced dual enrollment, on-line virtual credit and/or AP courses.

College is expensive and for many of our students, attending college will be unattainable or come with a hefty debt. Under Michigan law, school districts are required to pay dual enrollment tuition costs following an approved foundation allowance formula. The state of Michigan has created a 13th grade opportunity for school districts involved in an early middle college agreement.

This is a solid investment for the future of Niles. Developing a skilled workforce is essential to making sure existing businesses continue to have viable candidates to fill vacant positions. Additionally, a skilled workforce will enable new businesses to open within Niles, leading to an even more vibrant downtown and surrounding neighborhoods.

Still, we want to maximize the return on this investment by ensuring our students appreciate such an opportunity. So students who fail or drop out of a course (after the drop out period) will be required to reimburse the district. Our expectation is that such instances will be infrequent.

Those who are interested in learning more about the program are welcome to contact me.

Much like the upcoming bond vote, Niles Middle College will have a long-lasting impact on our students, our schools and, ultimately, the entire community. I hope that our families and residents will see the tremendous value in this program and encourage our students to explore all that it offers.


Dr. Michael Lindley is Superintendent for Niles Community Schools.