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LISD  counselors focus on life after high school

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By LPR Staff
Editor/POST-REGISTER

During a special called meeting of the Lockhart ISD Board of Trustees on Monday evening, the counseling departments for the district’s secondary schools presented a comprehensive plan for preparing students for life after high school.

At the request of the board, the counselors prepared a review of their activities wi

th students, detailing new programs that have been implemented and steps that still need to be taken to help youth prepare for the future.
The comprehensive planning begins at the freshman level.

“One of the things that’s always been a hindrance to the kids that go to college is that they lack study skills,” said freshman counselor Bill Hernandez. He said campus administration has implemented study skills classes into their curriculum to assist students with honing those skills.

The study skills class is TAKS based and designed to help students improve their scoring on the state-mandated standardized test. However, it also enforces study habits that will help students succeed through their high school careers and into college.

Hernandez said another primary focus is a teamwork approach between students, their families and their teachers.

Lockhart High School Head Counselor Keely Reynolds said the teamwork approach is effective and helpful as the students move through high school.

“We are fortunate to have wonderful parents that take the initiative to call us,” she said. “They are involved in the college nights, and the parents are going through the learning, just like their students.”

While freshman-level counseling focuses primarily on higher education, Reynolds said once the students get to high school, the counselors widen their focus.

“We understand that not every student wants to go to college,” she said. “We talk to them about ‘career cruising,’ looking at their options and what kind of career they want, and then we help them work toward those goals.”

Moving forward, the counselors agreed about the importance of parental involvement and student encouragement. Through the availability of Career and Technology Education (CATE) programs, ACC concurrent credit courses and cooperative efforts with area military recruiters, the counselors intend to make sure every Lockhart student knows his or her options, and is prepared for life after high school.

In a related item, the board discussed the possibility of purchasing student textbooks for ACC concurrent credit courses.

According to the district’s Chief Financial Officer Tina Knudsen, there is no existing rule prohibiting the district from purchasing the textbooks. However, because college professors often change textbooks annually, the purchases could cost the district upwards of $25,000 per year.

Board members originally discussed the initiative with regard to economically disadvantaged students, but in the interest of fairness, discussed providing textbooks for all students.

“There might be kids that are interested in taking these courses but can’t because they can’t afford the books,” Trustee Juan Alvarez said. “If we are able to provide those books, those kids can take the classes and see that they can handle them and then go on to college.”

One of the board’s overall goals is to encourage 100-percent participation in higher education for all students.

The board will make a decision on providing the textbooks after further research into the costs and available options.

Finally, Superintendent Dr. Jose Parra explained the process that would be involved in a bond project, which the board has considered to pay for upgrades to district campuses. The process, he said, might take several months, and would include several components, including a demographic report prepared by a third-party contractor, a facilities assessment and a bond steering committee made up of trustees, district employees and members of the community.

Should the board choose to move toward a bond initiative, they would need to call for a bond election on a General Election date, either in May or November.

The next meeting of the LISD Board of Trustees will be on Feb. 23, 2009. The LISD Board of Trustees meets in the Lockhart High School Conference Center at 6:30 p.m. The meetings are open to the public, and citizens, parents and students are encouraged to attend.

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