Harlandale ISD approves early college HS plans with PAC
Harlandale ISD has voted to approve an early college high school program with plans to partner with Palo Alto College and Texas A&M University. Click here
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By Francisco Vara-Orta
Staff Writer, San Antonio Express-News
Harlandale Independent School District hopes to open an early college high school in 2014, district officials say.
Board trustees voted 7-0 late Thursday to approve the program, which is slated to open for the 2014-2015 school year and could have up to 400 students.
It will provide an emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, including health careers and the petroleum and gas industry, district spokeswoman Leslie Garza.
“This is life changing,” Harlandale Superintendent Rey Madrigal said. “Not only will it get students college ready, but it will help them achieve in college, too.”
The campus will be a stand-alone building near Loop 410, west of Roosevelt Avenue, and close to two higher education institutions nearby that Harlandale plans to partner with: Texas A&M University-San Antonio and Palo Alto College.
Harlandale now joins San Antonio, Judson, and East Central independent school districts, which have early college high schools.
South San Antonio and Lackland ISDs are looking into the option. South San already has applied to the Texas Education Agency to partner with Palo Alto College for such a school, district spokesman Ed Suarez said.
Other districts, such as Southwest ISD, offer comprehensive dual-credit programs that allow all students to earn up to 24 hours of college credit, officials there said.
Some education experts tout early-college high schools as a way to keep at-risk students on track for college, because it reduces the time and financial demands that can deter students from pursuing a higher education.
Harlandale's program would allow students to acquire an associate's degree by the time they graduate from high school, and offer a 42 credit-hour academic core curriculum, plus 18 credit hours in specific fields of study.
Opportunities also will include an pre-Advanced Placement curriculum in math, science, social studies, English and Spanish. Fine arts and business computer information systems will be available as elective classes.
The board's approval, was a sign of unity following a contentious meeting Monday. District officials said the next step will be to hire a principal, counselor and administrative assistant who can begin developing curriculum, establishing policies and recruiting students.