Rochester, N.H. — By the time he graduates from Spaulding High School in June, P.J. Perkins already will have interviewed with a local aerospace manufacturing company. And the ink will barely be dry on his diploma when he collects a college certificate a few days later.
Perkins and 10 others are part of a pilot program that Republican Gov. Chris Sununu wants to expand statewide. They spend their mornings at the high school before heading across the street to Great Bay Community College, where they are earning certificates in advanced composites manufacturing at no cost to their families. In early June, they will have job interviews with Safran Aerospace Composites, a subsidiary of a company that makes aircraft engines and satellite propulsion systems.
“It’s a great opportunity to go above and beyond and kind of prove some people wrong who didn’t believe in me, and just show them I can actually do something,” Perkins said on Friday, the day after Sununu highlighted the program in his inaugural address and said it would serve as a model for a statewide program called the “New Hampshire Career Academy.”
“It has the possibility, across the state, of achieving what so far has eluded so many — a model that does not cost the taxpayers or the education system any additional money but makes a free college degree available to our New Hampshire students,” Sununu said.
According to the Department of Education, the goal is to create a new charter school operated by the community college system that would receive the same $7,300 in state funding per pupil that other charter schools receive. Participating seniors would receive high school diplomas, certificates in specific fields, about 30 college credits and a guaranteed job interview with partner businesses. Those who stay on for another year could earn associate degrees.