As a parent, I know how important education is to a child’s life. We all know that teenagers especially need a little extra guidance. If put in the right environment, it’s wonderful to see your young one grow and flourish into an independent, compassionate adult. I’m glad to see that Las Cruces has provided such an environment at the Early College High School.
Early College High School isn’t just a school; it’s an opportunity!
Las Cruces is home to the first early college high school in New Mexico. What’s an early college high school? It’s a joint effort between the university and the public school system aimed at reducing dropout rates by engaging students in the college process early. This engagement includes small class sizes and real-world applications in coursework. The best part is that students graduate with both a high school diploma and an associates degree.
However, the benefits don’t end there. The school is actually more affordable to run and build as costs were reduced through partnerships with NMSU and DACC. For example, the district doesn’t have the additional expense of building a gym or library because students will use university facilities instead.
Last year the early college high school opened to about 120 Las Cruces freshmen at its temporary location at Doña Ana Community College. Eventually the school will be located in the Arrowhead Research Park at New Mexico State University.
ECHS will cost around $18 million and serve 500 students, compared to the new high school under construction on Dripping Springs, which will have between 1,500 and 2,000 students, and cost around $110 million, resulting in a total cost per savings of 16 percent per ECHS student.
Within the next 4 years, the school will boast a maximum of 500 students in the 65,000 square-foot facility. It will feature state-of-the-art technology, a cafeteria and multipurpose center, a student commons area and administration offices. Students will also benefit from and continue to use facilities at NMSU and DACC.
The Early College High School is the first in New Mexico to take advantage of New Mexico House Bill 33. Instead of spending $18 million to build the school, Las Cruces Public Schools will lease the building for six years, paying 4 percent interest on the certificate of participation bonds, and make no lease payments until the campus opens in August 2011. In the sixth year, the school will buy out the lease for the principal amount of $18 million, paying off the loan with future bonds.
It was The Bridge of Southern New Mexico that launched the project. The Bridge was created through an education committee initiative of the Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce that formed the Regional Education Initiative, which led to community discussions regarding school attendance and graduation rates.
This joint effort between the business community and the school systems demonstrates that in Las Cruces, your education matters, and when the right people get together to address an issue, action is taken.
Do you have any other ideas as to how the education system could be improved? If so, please leave a comment below.
If you have young ones and are interested in learning more about the schools in Las Cruces, feel free to visit http://www.lascrucesschools.com/.