PAISD, Lamar-PA to partner in Early Education School

Published 6:46 pm Tuesday, June 23, 2015

New college facilities, including dormitories, along with an Early College High School are part of the educational landscape planned for downtown Port Arthur.
Lamar State College President Betty Reynard and Port Arthur Independent School District Superintendent Mark Porterie detailed college and school district projects both are working on to better educate students.
Reynard and Porterie were guest speakers Tuesday at the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce Membership Luncheon.
Though there are numerous expansion plans at the college made possible from an appropriation by 84th Texas Legislature this last session, Reynard said the number one question she is asked is about the status of the dorms.
“They are in the queue,” Reynard said.
The college has already issued Requests for Qualifications, and is readying to solicit a Request for Proposals for a developer.
Lamar is planning to build about 100  student dormitories at a projected cost of $7 to $8 million. The cost will be borne by the developer.
The city of Port Arthur has agreed to a grant a 10-year tax abatement to the developer, and the city’s Economic Development Corporation will provide a $1 million grant to the developer to offset construction costs and, in the process, lower the dorm rental rates.
“We are happy and excited. This will bring a lot to the campus,” Reynard said. ‘If we don’t run into any huge hurdles, then by the Fall of 2016 perhaps we will be inviting you to a grand opening,” Reynard said.
Lamar State College-Port Arthur is also planning other facilities upgrades made possible through $80.5 million in tuition backed revenues to fund construct projects at the Golden Triangle’s four area colleges:  Lamar University, Lamar State College – Port Arthur and Lamar State College – Orange, and Lamar Institute of Technology.
The Port Arthur campus plans to consolidate five existing programs in one new central building. The funding will also allow for the addition of a new technology degree and certificate programs.
Lamar Port Arthur and PAISD are also planning a joint project — one that will allow high school students to take college courses prior to their high school graduation.
The Early College High School will be in the old Woodrow Wilson building behind the Lamar campus.
Reynard said the joint campus could be approved by as early as Fall 2016, and would serve up to 400 students.
If approved to provide instruction to the high school students in PAISD, those enrolled could graduate with an associates degree.
Reynard said the new campus would provide 75 percent academic courses and 25 percent technical, likely network security courses.
“This is a really wonderful opportunity for our PAISD students,” she said.
Porterie praised area college campuses for providing students the opportunity to earn degrees ranging from an associate degree to a doctorate without leaving home.
The Early College High School, he said, would provide a way for students to get a jumpstart on their college educations and it be paid for by the district.
“Parents do not pay for it,” he said.
The district’s $195 million bond, passed in November 2014, is going good, Porterie said.
The district is making every effort to use local vendors, he said.
At Monday’s regular school board meeting, the district opted to hire a dean of discipline to help the school maintain order with some students he described as “incorrigible.”
Though most of the district’s students are good, some take up entirely too much time with discipline problems that disrupt the classroom.
Teachers will also benefit from a new program designed to provide professional development instruction for new teachers who are not familiar with classroom management.
“We have to address our teachers. Every student does not come to class ready to learn,” Porterie said.
Some, he said, do not come from a two-parent home where education is a priority.
“We are taught at universities how to teach from a white picket fence. It doesn’t work,” Porterie said.
The district, Porterie said, is tightening up its student code of conduct and the parents will have to become responsible for their children.
“Believe it or not, we are a business and at the end of the 12th grade you want students to be career ready, college ready, or military ready,” Porterie said. “Parents are going to have to help us.”
Also at the luncheon, Chamber Board President Paul Chargois praised local  state legislators, District 4 Senator Brandon Creighton, District 22 Rep. Joe Deshotel and District 21 Rep. Dade Phelan for the work they did to help education this session.
Phelan and Deshotel were presented with certificates for their contributions to education this session. Creighton was not in attendance.
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