By LIBBY CLUETT
In concert with Mineral Wells Industrial Foundation's Steve Butcher, City Manager Lance Howerton and community business members, Mineral Wells ISD trustees and Superintendent Gail Haterius recently visited the John A. Dubiski Career High School, a Grand Prairie ISD public school of choice.
At Tuesday's board meeting MWISD Board President Joe Ruelas reported on this Dec. 4 site visit to the school, which he said offers students an “opportunity to move on or excel in a certain direction.”
He said the school's students work with companies to find them jobs after high school, as well.
“The school does not look like a school, it looks like a business,” noted trustee Maria Jones. She said there are no bells. Instead, she said students pay attention to their watches and clocks as if at a regular business.
She said the school has a print shop to print materials in house, while giving students the graphic-arts learning experience.
Jones said students take the core classes and then have career pathways.
“Their whole focus is on [career] education. Even students going into cosmetology – even though that might not be something they want to build a career on – it gives them a skill where they can work while they are going to school, if they need to, or to save up money for a year before going to school,” she said. “Most kids have an internship and they are working for businesses that are partners with the school.”
She said students can become certified or licensed to work in jobs in the community while furthering their education.
“Their extracurricular activities are FFA, DECA and SkillsUSA,” she added, in addition to some non-competitive clubs and organizations, like student council.
The resources of the school go directly into educating the skills of the students, Jones noted of the five-school Dubiski campus.
The attendance is over 1,500 students, Jones said, “and they are thinking they will probably be at 1,600 students next year.”
The Dubiski campus schools are aligned with the U.S. Department of Labor Career Clusters, according to the school's website, http://www.gpisd.org/dubiski. Dubiski's offerings include architecture, engineering, arts, audio-visual technology and communications, business, marketing, finance, information technology, health science, transportation and logistics.
Jones said trustees visited the campus to see how portions of the Dubiski concept might translate on a local scale for this community.
“We want to continue to work and provide an educated and skilled workforce for the community and to educate our students with the skills they need to have good jobs that will help them earn a living wage and be able to keep some of our young people in our community,” Haterius said.
Since last week's visit to the Grand Prairie ISD campus, she said she and Ruelas have talked to Mineral Wells Area Chamber of Commerce President Dacey Malone and Executive Director Beth Watson “to continue the conversation and work on ways to collaborate with the business community to educate our kids for their future career path.”
In other business:
• Haterius gave an update on the district's Facility Needs Assessment. She said VLK Architectures were on campuses this week to meet with staff and students for the initial phase of the assessment.
• Jay Walsworth, assistant superintendent for student services and human resources, updated the school board on the district's highly qualified teacher report.
He explained what it takes for a district's professional teachers and paraprofessionals to meet the state standard of faculty and educational staff being 100 percent highly qualified in the subjects they administer.
“I'm proud of MWISD for saying we are 100-percent highly qualified,” Walsworth noted.
• Trustees approved a state waiver for two first-grade classes that are over the 22-to-one student-teacher ratio. In addition they authorized Haterius to hire a new kindergarten teacher since all the classes are at 25 students per teacher, of which she said, “We don't think it's the best environment.”
• Athletic Director Chuck Lawrence reported on playoff football games. He said that after tonight's State Class 1A semifinal game between Stamford and Italy, Ram Stadium will have hosted four playoffs. While he said attracting playoff games depends on the location and decision of teams making the playoffs, he added that Weatherford ISD raised their stadium fees and said, “They're not getting many games.
“This year the right teams have won and we're getting the games,” he said, adding “We were in line for 10 games and ended up getting four.”