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WCS Supt. Gives Thoughts on Cooperative Innovative High Schools That Soucek Supports

Compiled by Jesse Wood

After N.C. Sen. Soucek announced that Gov. Pat McCrory’s recommended budget for 2015-17 includes funding for eight new Cooperative Innovative High Schools (CIHS), including one to be located in Watauga County, High Country Press reached out to WCS Supt. Scott Elliott to hear his “thoughts” on this concept.

The CIHS would be located in the Watauga High School and available to all WHS students. If this funding is apart of the final budget, Watauga High School would receive $310,669 to fund and create an in-house CIHS.

Here is what Elliott wrote in an email:


The Cooperative and Innovative High School designation will allow us to create what we are loosely calling the Watauga Innovation Academy as a school within a school at Watauga High School. It will build upon our already strong college dual enrollment options with Caldwell Community College. Students will be able to take a wide range of college courses on the high school campus that count for both high school and college credit. Our application for the program recently gained approval from both the State Board of Education as well as the State Board of Community Colleges. We were pleased to see financial support for the program included in the Governor’s budget proposal, and we hope to gain support from the General Assembly as well. If things continue to move along quickly, we should be able to begin the program at the start of next school year.

It is vitally important that we continue to help more students move smoothly from high school into either college or skilled work. The free community college courses we offer at Watauga High School provide a huge financial benefit to our families while also helping prepare our students for high wage work if they choose to stay here in our community. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Soucek released a statement announcing that he supported this funding for Watauga County earlier this week:

Sen. Soucek
Sen. Soucek

The Governor’s 2015-2017 recommended budget, which was released early March, funds eight new Cooperative Innovative High Schools (CIHS), one of which that will be located in Watauga County. With this plan, Watauga High School will receive $310,669 in order to fund the creation of this CIHS.

This high school program is a proven concept as some of the most successful schools in the state are this model. Cooperative Innovative High Schools work to support at-risk students and are a financially advantageous pathway to college. These programs give students the opportunity to complete an associate degree program or earn up to two years of college credit while also graduating with a high school diploma.

This is a project that I have been working on for a year now and I am excited to see come to Watauga County. As the Senate is working to formulate a budget, I intend to fight to make sure this funding toward a CIHS in Watauga County that is present in the governor’s budget will also be a part of the final Senate budget.

For more information about Cooperative Innovative High Schools, click here.