ARLINGTON — When an early college high school opens at Tarrant County College Southeast Campus this fall, 90 percent of the students will be economically disadvantaged Arlington teenagers, a group that the district sought out for the program.More than 400 students applied to attend the new high school, Arlington Collegiate High School at Tarrant County College-Southeast, Arlington school Superintendent Marcelo Cavazos told a crowd Monday at the 2014 State of the District address. This first year the school will have 100 students, with 100 added each year until it reaches capacity at 400.Arlington Collegiate, which will let teenagers earn diplomas and associate degrees simultaneously, was one of many collaborations Cavazos mentioned during his two-hour address, which covered the district’s achievements. School board President Bowie Hogg boasted about the passage of the district’s $663.1 million bond package with about 70 percent of the vote. The bond package is the biggest in Tarrant County history.The district is creating design teams made up of teachers, students and community members for projects in the bond package such as the new fine arts center and athletic complex. More information will be available in the coming weeks, district spokeswoman Leslie Johnston said. Hogg also said the district has the highest starting teacher salaries in the region, at $50,000. A teacher in the audience, Christina Blank, said later that although the district is competitive in first-year salaries, longtime employees don’t make that much. “As the ladder goes up we are less competitive,” said Blank, an art teacher at Boles Junior High who oversees junior highs for the United Educators Association.But she said she’ll keep working at Boles until the day she dies. “I love, love, love my school. We all do,” she said.Other achievements mentioned in the address included a partnership last fall with UT Arlington on the Bound for Success program, which grants automatic admission to high school juniors in the top 20 percent of their class. The district also joined UT Arlington recently for a new STEM Academy for the sciences. The academy, which will be at Martin High School in 2015, will give incoming high school students the opportunity to earn high school and college credits simultaneously in one of four subject areas: engineering, biology/biomedical science, computer science and math/science.The students will be able to complete first-year college courses before they graduate.“Today our students are depending on us; tomorrow we are depending on them,” Cavazos said.As of the last academic year, 64,000 students were enrolled in the district. District leaders are pleased with a new online registration system that 34,000 parents have used this year.The district named Texas Trust Credit Union, which will give out more than $100,000 in scholarships in the next four years for the early college high school, as business partner of the year, and TCC as community partner. The crowd included leaders from the city of Arlington, Tarrant County, UT Arlington, Tarrant County College-Southeast, teachers’ organizations and politicians.
Monica S. Nagy, 817-390-7792 Twitter:@MonicaNagyFWST