Friday, May 22, 2015

East County college, high school district boards meet to hear about Alliance

Defining the new East County Education Alliance, a partnership between the East County high school and college districts, is simple, but the work facing the team is intensive, the governing boards of the two districts saw at a first-ever joint meeting Tuesday.

Ron Cook photography
Members of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District and Grossmont Union High School District governing boards had their first joint meeting to hear about the work of the East County Education Alliance. From left are: GCCCD Board members Bill Garrett, Debbie Justeson, Mary Kay Rosinski, Edwin Hiel, Zac Gianino (student trustee), and Greg Barr; GCCCD Chancellor Cindy L. Miles; GUHSD Superintendent Ralf Swenson and GUHSD Board members Robert Shield, Gary Woods, Jim Kelly, Jim Stieringer, and Priscilla Schreiber.

 A partnership to prepare students to be college and career-ready is the “what” behind the pairing of the Grossmont Union High School District and the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District. The “how” is a lot more complex, but what’s been accomplished so far impressed trustees who met for an update on the work of the Alliance since its October formation.

The Alliance so far has:

  • Created a mission statement
  • Launched a press conference to publicly unveil the Alliance
  • Hosted a summit in 2014 that drew 120 attendees
  • Designed the Alliance structure
  • Launched
  • Secured $100,000 for initial costs
  • Selected the educational research firm, the Institute for Evidence-Based Change, to help guide the Alliance’s efforts
  • Formed topical groups or councils that have had regular meetings
  • Created strategic plans for these councils
  • Designed fundraising campaigns
 “This is remarkable progress for a fabulous idea whose time has come,” said Cindy L. Miles, college district chancellor. “Buckle up and hold onto your seats. This is going to change East County.”

Miles joins Ralf Swenson, high school district superintendent, as co-chairs of the Alliance steering committee.

Swenson thanked Miles for helping to initiate the Alliance, saying that the partnership is needed to achieve the primary goal to help high school graduates be ready for college and a career.

“There are times when we look one direction on some topics and another direction on others,” he said. “Finding solutions is not something that can be done in isolation. This is the start. This is the foundation. And this can only benefit students.”

The Alliance was formed to increase collaboration between the two districts so that students are better informed about their college and career options after high school and have a smoother path to college. The partnership is also working to encourage more high school students to take college classes so they are better prepared when they take the next step in their education.

GUHSD Board member Priscilla Schreiber praised the work of the Alliance and said the idea of a partnership has been talked about for years.

“It has taken 15 years to see this come to fruition,” she said, adding that she would like to see the coalition expanded to benefit even younger students.

Miles said that would be an idea to explore once the current Alliance is firmly afoot.

“You are right – the seeds were planted 15 years ago and we are only now sowing the mighty oak,” she said.

The next steps of the Alliance include :

  • Creating ambassadors
  • The continuing work of the councils
  • Defining “The Promise” – coming up with specific criteria for students to be eligible to attend Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges tuition-free
  • Hosting the fall summit scheduled for 7:30 a.m.-noon on Wednesday, Sept. 30.
The Alliance welcomes the public to participate. For further information, go to the Alliance website.

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