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I think most of us can acknowledge the importance of students attending college. After all, higher education is a critical part of helping students lead successful, productive lives. However, financially, it is not always an option for every student. That’s why it’s exciting to be part of Dallas ISD as we grow early college high school programs, which provide students the opportunity to earn an associate degree, free of charge, while still in high school. Through an historic expansion, the district is positioned to make college a real option for every student who wants to attend.

This past fall, Dallas ISD launched seven collegiate academies and one P-TECH early college high school, and now we are poised to open 10 additional programs in August. It is an undertaking of epic proportion and students in the Oak Cliff/West Dallas community will benefit greatly as every high school in District 7 will now offer students this opportunity in our own community. For many, it will make the difference of being the first in their families to attend college, opening a world of opportunity that would otherwise not be available to them. It is a huge win for students, parents, and the community.

The cost savings alone is a boost. Early college programs like this one will save each student approximately $6,000, the cost of a two-year degree at Dallas County Community College, giving students the ability to finish high school with two years of college under their belt and the tools they need to experience postsecondary success. Research shows these students are more likely to go on to a four-year university.

Here’s how it works: Freshman and sophomore students enrolled in the program will take classes on their high school campus on a wing solely dedicated to students in the program. During their junior and senior year, classes will take place at a college partner campus. This not only prepares students for college-level work, but it helps acclimate them to a collegiate atmosphere.

Students at Adamson High School will take classes at El Centro College, those at Molina will take classes at Mountain View, and Sunset High School students will take classes at UNT-Dallas. Trini Garza Early College High School, located on the Mountain View campus, remains one of the district’s jewels and has seen many students graduate with associate degrees since opening in 2006.

Finding innovative ways to help students succeed is the order of the day in today’s educational landscape. This expansion helps us fulfill that goal. Get all the details here.

The application period is now open for those students interested in applying for one of the district’s collegiate academies, magnets, choice schools and two-way dual language schools. The deadline to apply is Jan. 31. Visit the district website to apply.

Other District 7 news:

Those of you who want some holiday cheer can check out Reagan Elementary’s winter program which takes place at nearby Hector Garcia Middle School at 6 p.m. tonight, Dec. 15.

Most schools are observing early release days: Secondary students: Dec. 20, 21, and 22; elementary students: Dec. 22. Please check with your child’s school for exact times.

Winter break begins Friday, Dec. 23 through Jan. 6 for district staff, and through Jan. 9 for students.

Have a safe, happy holiday!

Audrey Pinkerton Audrey Pinkerton is the District 7 representative on the Dallas ISD Board of Trustees. 

Audrey Pinkerton