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Getting a jump-start

Logos Public Charter School may be picking up the tab for many of its seniors’ first year at either Rogue Community College or Southern Oregon University.

School administrators are in the process of developing requirements for an advanced diploma option that would allow qualifying seniors to graduate from high school in four years and, in their “fifth year,” attend either RCC or SOU, courtesy of Logos.

Logos would save each student an average of $6,000 in tuition, fees and books, Logos Executive Director Joseph VonDoloski estimated.

The school will need approval from its board of directors before it can begin offering an advanced diploma, he said, adding that he doesn't foresee any opposition.

The school, which serves about 900 kindergarten through 12th-grade students, had considered either building a larger building or leasing more space, but staff decided it would rather make do and invest the money in the students’ future, VonDoloski said.

When VonDoloski presented the idea of an advanced diploma to parents at the beginning of the school year, he said, most responded with “I wish this was around when I was going to school,” “This is too good to be true” or “What’s the catch?”

“But there’s no catch,” he said.

Students would still get to walk at their graduation with classmates, but the school will hold onto their transcripts and diploma until after they have completed their first year of college, explained Valarie Barr, Logos’ director of student services.

During that first year, students would be required to meet regularly with a Logos adviser who would guide them through the college process, help them register for classes, evaluate their progress reports, and make sure they are attending their classes and labs, Barr said.

“This provides a good transition from high school senior to woohoo freshman,” VonDoloski said.

“And it provides support to parents who haven’t gone to college and may not understand the system,” Barr added.

Asked where the funds would come from to cover the expense, VonDoloski said only that the money was in the school's budget. He noted the school did not have as much overhead as traditional schools, which frees up money to be used elsewhere.

"It will eat a little bit of state funding," VonDoloski said.

Although requirements for the diploma are still in the works, Barr estimates that about 40 of Logos’ 70 seniors could qualify.

“We want a certain GPA ,” she said. “And they would need to finish all their high school credits.”

One of the seniors who may qualify is Zoe Brown, 18, who plans to enroll in RCC’s one-year emergency medical services certificate program next year.

Brown said she has been saving for college since she was in the sixth grade, but if her first year were covered by Logos, she could put that money toward an advanced degree later on.

Barr said she is aware of schools in the Klamath County and Crook County school districts that offer an advanced diploma, but none in the immediate area.

Because of recent changes in how the state calculates the graduation rates, students earning an advanced diploma will still count toward Logos’ four-year graduation rate.

Reach education reporter Teresa Thomas at 541-776-4497 or tthomas@mailtribune.com. Follow her atwww.twitter.com/teresathomas_mt.

Grace Jackson, 17, left, and Zoe Brown, 18, could be eligible for a free year's college tuition after their senior year if a plan is approved by the board of Logos Public Charter School in Medford. Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch