Less than two months after the State College Area school board approved an expansion of the Delta Program to fifth- and sixth-graders, the middle level program already has at least 60 students enrolled.
The expansion is designed to create a middle school experience within the Delta Program and allow for mentoring opportunities for some of the high school-age students. The Delta Program is designed to create internship opportunities, smaller class sizes and open up chances for Penn State and independent learning courses in a small school experience.
“We have been full-steam ahead with this initiative since you approved it,” Director Jon Downs told the board at its regular meeting March 17.
The middle level program is capped at 80 students to begin and the district administration is confident that it will reach that capacity for the 2014-15 school year, when the program is slated to begin. The middle level could expand in the future, but the district is looking to start small while it’s being implemented.
The program is housed at the Fairmount Building, but if the district’s high school project is approved in March, it could be moved to the North Building on the Westerly Parkway campus in the future.
One reason for the expansion is a district attempt to draw some of the students from local charter schools back into the system.
Downs said 45 to 50 percent of the students interested in the program are looking at charter schools or are already enrolled in them. He added that the enrollment to this point has been balanced through the different grade levels.
Organizers held the first open house for the program last week and got a small bump in enrollment.
Board President Penni Fishbaine said the strong early response from parents and students shows that there is a strong demand for Delta among the local community.
“It goes to show what people think about the Delta Program,” she said. “It’s a very great program and a lot of people realize the value.”