Pride High mission falls under fire
By LPR Staff
Some members of the community and the Lockhart ISD Board of Trustees have begun to question the way alternative education is provided in Lockhart.
The Pride High School was a heated topic of discussion on Monday night during the regular meeting of the LISD Board of Trustees. The campus, an “alternative education center,
” has apparently been a source of community concern in the weeks since the school year began. One parent spoke publicly at the meeting, suggesting the greatest cause for concern might be Pride principal Vivian Placke, who took the helm this year after longtime principal Pat Venglar announced his retirement this summer.
Trustees, however, expressed vocal concern not about the school”s leadership, but its mission.
“I worry that we might have lost sight of what Pride is about,” said trustee Timoteo “Tim” Juarez, Jr., who asked former and current administrators to discuss the direction of the school. “If we have gotten away from what we originally intended, I”m okay with that – but we need to know the justification for moving in another direction.”
One reason for changes, cited by Pride”s first principal, Janie Wright, and by Placke, is the change in educational requirements in the State of Texas.
“When we started, it was a place where kids could come and earn their credits at their own pace and get their diploma,” Wright said. “Back then, there was no TAKS they had to pass before they could graduate. Now, not only do we have to provide them their credits, but we have to prepare them for the TAKS as well.”
Placke said in most cases, students who master their TAKS requirements will also easily earn their credits.
Originally, Pride High School was only open to students between the ages of 16 and 21. In recent years, however, students as young as 14 and 15 have been admitted, and Placke said she is considering opening enrollment in the future to even younger students.
“I”ve seen children that qualify as “at risk” in the seventh and eighth grades,” she said. “And I want to be able to serve those students, as well.”
She said enrollment changes are more of a vision than a plan, and will require significant expansion of the current facilities to separate younger students from older ones.
Placke also said enrollment at the Pride High School reached 77 students this year, but attendance is lower than 79 percent. Eleven of the school”s students, as of Monday, were 15 years old.
After a great deal of heated discussion, the board voted 6-1 to restrict enrollment to the original parameters, 16- to 21-year-old students. They did not allow for a “grandfathering” process for the current 15-year-olds on campus, which Placke and Freshman Campus Principal John Henk feared would cause undue problems for the affected students.
“I don”t have the lists prepared, but I”m not sure these kids have ever even been to the Freshman Campus,” Henk said. “We”re going to have a rough day tomorrow.”
Trustee Carl Ohlendorf, who requested the current students be “grandfathered in,” voted against the measure when it was determined the students would not be allowed to stay in their current enrollment.
In other business, the Board hopes to have a long-term interim superintendent in place within days or weeks.
Three candidates were selected, but not named, to appear for interviews with the trustees during a special called meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 26. By the end of the interview process, trustees hope to name a long-term interim, who will replace current interim superintendent Susan Brooks.
Lockhart Junior High School Interim Principal Linda Bertram announced that the school had received a $165,000 “Texas Educator Excellence Grant.” Funds received from the grant award will be used to supplement programs at the Junior High School.
Also, the board agreed to allow the Boys” and Girls” Cross Country teams to travel to Fayettville, Ark., to participate in University of Arkansas Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 13. The team has participated in the race for several years in preparation for district, regional and state races here in Texas.
The LISD Board of Trustees meets on the fourth Monday of each month in the Conference Center of Lockhart High School at 6:30 p.m.