A possible new sponsor has emerged for Pathways Middle College High School, a popular alternative program shuttered last month by Oklahoma City Public Schools.
Chris Brewster, superintendent of Santa Fe South Schools, a K-12 charter, has expressed a desire to administer the program beginning with the 2014-15 school year, pending school district approval.
“At this point we’re all working together to see if Santa Fe South can take over the operation,” Brewster said Monday. “We see this an excellent compliment to our concurrent enrollment practices.”
Pathways, founded in 2001 to counter the district’s high dropout rate among eighth- and ninth-graders, offers concurrent enrollment in college courses. Most who attend graduate and go on to college, parents say.
The decision by the district not to renew its contract with Oklahoma City Community College — which houses 93 students in grades eight through 12 — and save $310,000 in staff salaries did not sit well with Pathways supporters.
Dozens of parents and students packed a May 5 school board meeting and criticized district leaders for not including parents and administrators in the decision.
“Without the involvement of parents, without that turnout at the board meeting, I don’t think we’d be talking about this right now,” parent Michelle Langston said. “Parents have to understand they have to be involved.”
Tamie Sanders, the district’s executive director of secondary education and reform, characterized Santa Fe South as a “strong charter school with great leadership and talented teachers.”
“This is encouraging and could provide another great option for students,” she said. “I support the plan and look forward to growing our relationship with Santa Fe South.”
Last month, Sanders told parents the decision to discontinue the program was made for several reasons, including the emergence of several career academies and specialty programs districtwide.
Parents complained that ending the program could be detrimental to students who have turned the corner academically since leaving their neighborhood schools.
“As parents we’ve all seen our kids grow at Pathways,” Langston said. “The last thing you want to do is take steps backwards.”
The board could vote on the proposal later this month.