VAHS: AP enrollment demographics improving

Scott Girard

After presenting a set of troubling statistics on Advanced Placement enrollment to the school board in December, Hammen returned to the school board with good news Monday night.

In December, she had outlined the lack of underrepresented and low-income students signing up for the college preparation classes, despite a survey that found 94 percent of VAHS students had college aspirations.

In 2013-14, 60 percent of 11th- and 12th-grade white students at a medium or high income level were enrolled in at least one AP course, while only 18 percent of underrepresented students were.

The school made it a goal to reach equity, or get each underrepresented group up to 60 percent participation.

Enrollment figures for the 2014-15 school year, following a number of outreach initiatives helped by the Equal Opportunity Schools organization, saw an increase among all of the groups, though only a few reached the 60 percent number.

AP enrollment among white medium- and high-income students also increased to 72 percent, meaning the school’s benchmark has increased, as well, Hammen said.

“We changed the benchmark group, so what we decided to do was actually change our goal,” Hammen said. “We still want equity at Verona Area High School.”

Overall, the school saw a tripling of AP enrollment among underrepresented students from 2013-14 to 2014-15, something Hammen was proud of.

“Feeling pretty positive about that,” she said. “We have some more work to do. We’re definitely not here to say we’re at full equity. But our goal for this year is to help ensure that all of these students … find success in AP.”

Investments finalized

The board also gave final approval Monday for the issuance and sale of promissory notes to help fund the new retirement benefits system approved this summer.

Robert Baird, a national asset management company, won the bidding process with an interest rate of 2.03 percent on the $9,220,000 of general obligation promissory notes. Other local governments, including the City of Madison and a pair of Wisconsin school districts, took on another $24,960,000 of the district’s investment.

Those two loans will fund the program, and have an annual total debt service of less than $2.5 million for the next 20 years.

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