The Bonsall Unified School District is considering models for Bonsall’s new high school which will open in 2014-15, and school district board members and staff will be receiving advice from Landmark Consulting Group, Inc.
The BUSD board voted 4-1 June 13 to approve a $3,094 agreement with Landmark Consulting. Sylvia Tucker voted against the proposal on the grounds that the district should create its own model for the school rather than adopting another model.
“We’re trying to learn what is the cutting edge in high school design right now,” said BUSD superintendent Justin Cunningham. “We’re really looking at a lot of different models and trying to see who’s having the most success.”
The funding for the consulting agreement is the remaining amount from a $15,000 grant from the Right to Succeed Foundation. The other $11,906 was spent on a visit to Net Tech High School in Napa and Big Picture High School in Sacramento.
Students at Net Tech and Big Picture interact with local industry and serve internships. “They’re developing a network in their chosen fields before they even get out of high school,” Cunningham said.
Net Tech and Big Picture also involve interdisciplinary fields, for example the combination of biology and physical education studies for biophysics, and concurrent enrollment with a community college allows students to earn early college credit. “The student would be able to graduate with an AA degree at the same time they get their high school diploma,” Cunningham said. “It’s quite a savings when you look at the cost of college now.”
Schools where students interact with industry also have reduced truancy and other behavioral problems compared to traditional high school campuses. “These kids, there’s meaning in what they’re doing,” Cunningham said. “You’re working on your future and you’re working in the business world.”
Net Tech and Big Picture were visited by a 15-person Bonsall contingent including staff, board members, teachers, and parents.
The consultant arrangement will enable Bonsall district staff and board members to keep abreast of various models of interest. The district itself will create arrangements with local industry. “We have to start doing the heavy work ourselves,” Cunningham said.
Cunningham noted that the district would look outside its boundaries for industry partners. “It’s pretty exciting,” he said.