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5:31 PM Tue, Nov. 13th

PUSD board OKs partnerships intended to benefit students

Prescott Unified School District buses wait for students after school in this undated photo. (Courier, file)

Prescott Unified School District buses wait for students after school in this undated photo. (Courier, file)

The Prescott Unified School District (PUSD) Governing Board focused much of its attention on Tuesday night to programs aimed at enhancing the school experiences for a diverse number of students.

One of the programs the board voted to partner with is FosterEd, a multi-state initiative of the National Center for Youth Law, with the goal of working with foster care children to obtain the educational services and resources they require to be successful in a school setting. Board members Scott Hicks and Maureen Erickson were absent.

Students in foster care often experience barriers to academic success because of trauma, constant moves, and the lack of consistent adult leadership in their lives, according to information provided by FosterEd. These children often have high absentee rates that contribute to an inability to make the educational attachments and goals that will lead them to graduate from high school. Often these children do not see beyond tomorrow, and so college and career planning are not on their radar.

Through this partnership, the district’s foster care children — the rough number was about 26 — will be assigned “education champions” who will work to provide both “intensive” and “responsive” services to these students with the goal of helping students be able to earn a high school diploma.

The intensive program is a 18- to 24-month service, with responsive services to last one to six months. Those services are all about resolving some of the students’ most difficult issues while removing barriers that are preventing them from achieving success in school.

These services will be provided to the district at no cost, but other projects they have offered in Arizona will bring value to these students by being an advocate for them with their teachers and in obtaining any special services or resources they might require.

PUSD administration sees this partnership as a link to meeting its mission to provide quality education to “Every Child, Every Day.”

With a similar philosophy, the board also endorsed a five-year agreement with the Boys to Men Mentoring Network to offer in-school adult and peer mentoring opportunities at both Mile High Middle School and Prescott High School.

At this time, the nonprofit organization is operating four mentoring circles of 12 boys each; two at the middle school and two at the high school.

Program Director Adam Young explained that the circles are a chance for teenage boys to talk about their concerns and thoughts in a non-judgmental setting where the adults listen and the peers offer encouragement and suggestions.

Young said the beauty of the program is how these boys see themselves through others’ eyes and recognize they are not alone in navigating the adolescent years.

The board also renewed its continuing partnership with Yavapai College for dual enrollment courses.

Prescott High Principal Mark Goligoski said this has been a strong partnership for years, one that offers students a chance to earn both high school and college credit, with some students able to complete up to two semesters of college work in advance of their enrollment.

He said that equates to significant dollars for families whose children are able to save as much as a year’s worth of tuition.

Student board representative Sydney Seeley said the other advantage is that it offers students a chance to experience college rigor in the more supportive high school setting. These courses can serve as college preparation for students so they know what to expect when they do step foot on their first college campus.

At this time, the high school has 76 credit course options and some 450 dual enrollment seats, with a number of students taking multiple subjects that include such courses as English, math, Spanish, business, networking, even animation.

Board President John Mackin said he does not want anyone to underestimate what a “huge thing this is” for students and families.

“This is so beneficial for our kids,” said board member Tina Seeley.

Follow Nanci Hutson on Twitter @HutsonNanci. Reach her at 928-445-3333 ext. 2041.