Archive for April, 2012

CREATING A THIRD HIGH SCHOOL OPTION

After months of study  and discussion by the administration – and with the enthusiastic participation of Alvin Community College, San Jacinto College, UH-Clear Lake at Pearland and others – I presented a recommendation to the Board on April 10, 2012.  We sought a green light for utilizing the now empty (and beautiful and capacious) Bailey Road  School Facility for developing a third high school option for those students who are interested.  After the presentation and intense discussion, the Board voted 4-3 to grant us a green light to proceed.  There remain many decision points prior to an  intended opening in fall 2013.  I’m attaching a PowerPoint further explaining the rationale/specifics behind this  initiative.

Why are we contemplating a third high school option for interested students?

Over the school year, I met with a large number of people who share a strong desire to accomplish several related goals/issues.   Three of these prominent issues can be expressed as follows:

  1.  In the quest to pursue “world-class schools” for Pearland ISD, it is necessary to greatly increase the number of graduates with college credits, college preparatory skills, and real-world job skills/certifications.
  2. There is a pronounced and growing need to relieve enrollment pressure at the two existing high schools.
  3. Taxpayers would like to see a productive use for their investment in the now vacant Bailey Road Facility.

It is extremely fortunate that resources are available to combine all three issues into one great enterprise:  the establishment of a third high school option with vast opportunities for earning dual credit college hours and certifications for skilled occupations.  Eligible/interested students would likely fall between the extremes of those bound for Harvard/MIT and those whose lives must necessarily be confined only to unskilled labor.  Many students fit between those two “poles.”  Thus, a subset of those students may decide to choose this third option.  At its enrollment  height, the Bailey Road Facility can hold approximately 1,375 students, but I anticipate we would start with a significantly smaller number.  As you can see in the attached PowerPoint, there is a growing and critical need to relieve enrollment pressure from the two high schools (DHS and PHS) now in operation.

Based on past actions by the Pearland ISD Board, there is certainly significant precedent for increasing “choice” options for parents/students.  Among the significant efforts of the recent past are the IB School at Massey Ranch Elementary, the GT Academy, and the intra-district transfer options on a space-available basis.  This new high school option is another step in the direction of maximizing parental/student choice.

Local colleges are excited to join this new venture aimed at maximizing post-secondary opportunities for our high school students.  Essentially the use of our facilities, their facilities, our teachers, their teachers, and other combined resources of all entities could give our school district an advantage very few Texas public schools can compete with.   It is a win-win for the entire educational community – and most importantly, the youth we serve.

We envision a school that has very few peers in the U.S.  In addition to the joint partnership with area colleges, we should invite local/regional businesses into our third high school.  These businesses would help provide equipment, supplies, and training expertise within our facility’s footprint – and in return generate a pipeline of skilled labor students for their businesses.  The best schools in the U.S. can conceivably break down the barriers between the “real world” of business/industry and K-12/college academia – as is already happening elsewhere in the world.  We can devise apprenticeships, internships, and interlocal agreements.  Moreover, Pearland ISD is uniquely qualified to take this quantum leap because of the work already begun by the Northern Brazoria County Education Alliance.  That Alliance has already forged links that are the envy of other school districts.  They are clearly poised to deepen and strengthen the relationships necessary for a “world-class” educational/business/industry experience.

Such a high school option does NOT provide a single path for post-graduation plans.  It only increases the options for involved students to attend a community college or university, pursue a vocational certification, and/or land immediate/eventual skilled employment.  Remembering that as many as 60% of today’s college/post-secondary students require remedial training, this third option immerses students in that environment earlier and in greater depth.  Furthermore, it offers parents thousands of dollars in saved college/certification costs – an especially poignant need among those from households in which the parents have limited education and/or language skills combined with low income.

Our two fine high schools (PHS and DHS) will continue serving all who wish to enroll in them.  Our work at those two schools will continue to emphasize high scholastic offerings – and a wide variety of curriculum/fine arts/extracurricular activities for all comers.  And we’ll likely begin this third option with what I term a “hybrid approach” whereby students can be shuttled between the Bailey Road Facility and the other high schools for fine arts, athletics, and other choices.

We are building on a strong foundation already present in Pearland ISD!

See PowerPoint:  BAILEYROADINITIATIVE