PITTSFIELD -- The Rotary Club of Pittsfield is teaming up with city high schools to make sure cost is not a barrier for students when it comes to taking and Advance Placement course. The club's also looking for others to support the cause.
AP courses and exams are intensive courses offered by the national College Board. Students who pass the course exam -- typically a 3 or more out of a total of 5 points -- can earn college credit, ideally saving students time and money on a higher education in the long run.
Pittsfield Rotary President Dave Hall said he met Pittsfield Public Schools Superintendent Jason "Jake" McCandless at an event, an the two got to talking about students' inability to pay the AP exam fees.
The 2014 fee per AP exam is $89.
McCandless said that while the College Board and commonwealth do offer subsidized fees, particularly to students who meet federal criteria in the free and reduced meal cost program, it's still too much for some kids.
"One of the things I heard from both of our high school principals is that even with the deduction, students still don't take the test saying that the reason is money," he said.
Hall said he and his fellow Rotarians wanted to help, and subsequently raised nearly $5,000 back in the spring to further help reduce testing costs for students.
Upon more research, Hall calculated that if the Rotary Club could raise $10,000 in addition to the previously raised funds, it could establish a fund to fully cover the cost of exams for 60 students with financial need in perpetuity.
The online fundraiser will conclude at the end of the week.
"We want to set up a permanent fund so students never have this problem again," said Hall.
McCandless said the fund could also help students who don't have much money but don't qualify for free and reduced lunch.
"We have about 150 kids in the high schools who are only $500 or $1,000 from the income level required to meet the meal subsidy criteria," McCandless said.
"We've certainly invested money into this ourselves and our looking for other business partners to help. The Rotary really wanted to take on the issue and came up with a really excellent and quick response," he added.
To learn more about the issue and to make a contribution, visit http://goo.gl/ oSGpuk, or find Pittsfield Rotary Club on Facebook.
To reach Jenn Smith:
or (413) 496-6239
On Twitter: @JennSmith_Ink