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Baltimore County School Workers Graduate From Free Education Program

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BALTIMORE COUNTY, Md. (WJZ)—It’s a free college education for dozens of Baltimore County school workers. For some it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in a sluggish economy.

As Gigi Barnett explains, one of the first graduating classes is celebrating Friday night.

The day starts early for Kai Price.  She runs four Baltimore County school cafeterias.

“I wake up at 4 every morning,” Price said. “I’m here by 6, 6:30 every morning.”

Two years ago, Price decided to go to college on the school district’s dime. She worked two jobs and went to school part-time. But last week, she and 55 other school workers received their business certificates through a partnership program with the Community College of Baltimore County.

And the 30-hour course work was free.

“It’s made me independent, and I know whatever I put my mind to, I can do it,” Price said.

“We do this for our teachers all of the time,” said Baltimore County School Superintendent Dr. Joe Hairston.

He says it made sense to offer a free college program to other school workers, too.

Now there’s a waiting list to enroll, in part because of the sluggish economy.

“So many people in all walks of life across this country are going back to training and developing jobs. The market is becoming more competitive,” Hairston said.

The program pays for virtually everything. Without that kind of financial assistance, Price said she would’ve never started and wouldn’t have her certificate.

“And, now I’m at the crossroads of ‘Can I do it?’ I’ve paid for my classes, and now I need to move on,” Price said.

The program now offers its graduates the chance to earn an associate’s degree, but that will have a cost. The program also offers a track to earn a four-year degree at a Maryland university.

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