By HEATHER CATHLEEN COX
One item that was up for discussion at Tuesday’s meeting of the San Benito Consolidated Independent School District Board of Trustees was a request to approve the Optional Flexible School Day Program (OFSDP).
According to SBCISD Planner/Evaluator Ruben Franco, each year the district must reapply for OFSDP in order to maintain its Gateway to Graduation Academy.
The Gateway to Graduation Academy is an alternative campus designed for secondary students in danger of not completing graduation requirements in order to receive their high school diploma. The academy is geared for students in grades 9-12 at risk of dropping out or who have already dropped out of school.
To specify, Franco said, “It’s an annual thing we do (for the Gateway to Graduation Academy), for students who need to recover hours, or for kids who may have dropped out and need credits for graduation.”
Interested and qualified students will be provided an opportunity to attend a minimum of two class periods totaling 90 minutes, a half-day of classes totaling 180 minutes or all day classes totaling 360 minutes. These instructional arrangements include night classes, year-round classes and flexible schedules.
Expanding upon when students in the Academy are actually expected to attend classes, Franco said, “We have flexible schedules because these students may have jobs or responsibilities that keep them from school.”
The Academy provides one teacher for each core subject (English, Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies), as well as an administrator, a counselor, a student services coordinator and a secretary. All staff and resource personnel are full-time.
Of the program, Superintendent of Schools Antonio G. Limón said, “Basically, the program gives flexibility to when students come to school.”
All students wishing to participate on OFSDP are required to adhere to a specified application process, and parents of applying students are required to provide consent.
Requirements for a student to enroll in the Academy include: being a resident of San Benito; being 25 years of age or younger as of Sept. 1, 2014; deemed in danger of not completing high school requirements and in need of passing at least one section of the required State Assessment; a dropout, according to the TEA/PEIMS definition.
SBCISD first implemented OFSDP in the 2009-10 academic year. Since its inception, Franco said that district graduation rate has increased and dropout rates have decreased. According to statistics provided by the Texas Education Agency Texas Academic Performance Report, the annual dropout rate for grades 9-12 in this district were as follows: 1.8 percent in the 2010-2011 academic year; 1.5 percent in the 2011-2012 academic year.
Franco said that the district anticipates “serving approximately 100 students for the 2014-15 school year.”