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20120615 BudgetLA JOYA – The La Joya Independent School District school board discussed retention and graduation of students on June 11. School board members were given numbers from a cohort group of freshmen students at each high school from 2008-2009 and what their status was as of May 31.

The question board members wanted answered was how to get the students to stay in school and see them walk across the stage accepting their diplomas.

Assistant Superintendent for Student Services Adriana Villarreal told the board they are identifying needs and target areas where more work needs to be done to keep these students in school and help them graduate.

Board members are worried about 599 students who may not graduate with their peers. There are 1,947 students in the cohort group. The other 1,348 students are on target to graduate.

Some 106 students need either a few credits or a passing TAKS score to graduate. Of those, 28 students completed the requirement to graduate. The district is working on getting the other students to graduate by having them attend summer school. Some of these students could also be enrolled at one of the accelerated campuses or the College and Career Center.

Superintendent Alda T. Benavides said if at least 60 of the students were able to graduate, the district would have an August graduation ceremony for those students.

“I am hoping this year we have an August graduation, because we have enough students to help walk across the stage,” said Benavides.

Most of the students needing credits or to pass TAKS have returned for summer school classes.

Also included in the not-on-target students were 330 students who have moved out of the district, are being home schooled, are pursuing a GED, or have died. Those students have been accounted for so they do not negatively affect the district’s enrollment numbers for federal and state aid.

The numbers of possible non-graduates affecting enrollment numbers negatively are 241 students, including the students that are pending a passing TAKS score or a few credits. Others included in those numbers are students who have transferred, incarcerated students and leavers.

There are 130 leavers, or drop outs, from the three high schools. District employees have either not been able to locate these students or the student refuses to come back to school.

Villarreal said counselors, administrators, social workers and others have been going out to homes and finding students to bring them back. Some of these students will come back and drop out more than once, said Villarreal, which makes their numbers larger and puts more stress on employees to get the students back in school.

Board members, Benavides and Villarreal agreed that priorities need to be established concerning which group of students to get back to school first. First priority for the district is to get all the students that only need a few credits to finish in summer school and graduate them by August 31. Getting seniors who only need TAKS to graduate, will be second priority. The third priority will be finding all of the drop outs.

Villarreal will update the board again in August.

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