Katy ISD plans partnership to help dropout students earn diplomas

Katy ISD is working with Katy Mills in a new program to help students who dropped out of school earn their degrees.


The KISD board of trustees unanimously approved a partnership in December with the Simon Youth Foundation, a nonprofit that was created by Simon Property Group—the  company that owns numerous malls around the country, including Katy Mills.


“We’re really excited to be partnering with Katy Mills and Katy Independent School District,” Simon Youth Foundation Communications director Jay Kenworthy said. “The school district is really being aggressive about addressing these problems.”


Construction of the 5,000-square-foot Katy Mills Simon Youth Academy buildout for classroom space is expected to begin in April.


The goal is to have the space open and ready for students by the start of the 2016-17 academic year in August.


Simon will fund the buildout of the classroom space while Katy ISD provides teachers, administrators and the curriculum for the students who will be in the program.


“We hope to be open with at least 50 students,” said Heather DeVries, a KISD dropout prevention, intervention and recovery coordinator.


DeVries said there will be room for more students and the goal is to grow the program over time.


The program will target participants who dropped out of the school district during the 2015-16 school year.


Half of the 50 students would attend class the morning and half in the afternoon or evening, she said.


“It’s going to be very individualized,” DeVries said. “The time frame is going to really be dependent on, No. 1, what graduation requirements the student still has left [to complete] and what their level of commitment is in terms of attending a full-day instructional program or a partial day instructional program.”


The initial plan is to have six teachers for the academy, including four content-area teachers, a career and technical education teacher and a Spanish teacher.


KISD will also provide a principal, a counselor and a part-time social worker for the students, DeVries said.


The Katy Mills Simon Youth Academy will be the first in the Greater Houston area and third in Texas.


Other academies are located in El Paso and San Antonio, Kenworthy said.


There are 26 academies nationwide in 12 different states.


Kenworthy said the foundation started in 1998 after Simon executives observed youth loitering in malls during normal school hours.


“[It was] an opportunity for the company to become a good corporate citizen,” Kenworthy said.


DeVries said one challenge of moving dropout students back into a classroom setting is making sure the students are ready.


“They are going to have to, No. 1, make sure they’re ready to recommit,” DeVries said. “We want them to have that desire, and we’re going to sell it to make sure they understand as young adults what that high school diploma can do for them immediately and in their future.”


Graduates could eventually earn a professional certification, more easily move up the career ladder or enroll in a community college or university, she said.


DeVries said part of the program may also include partnerships with Katy Mills retailers.


“We hope that we have some of those retail partners come in and talk to our young adults,” DeVries said.



MOST RECENT

Many restaurants in Katy offer deals on free or discounted kids' meals. (Photo courtesy Canva)
Check out these Kid's Eat Free options in the Katy area

Check out this list of Katy restaurants offering deals on kids meals.

Texas Medical Center coronavirus updates: Daily average hospitalizations drop 15% week over week; ICU sees dip in number of patients

Coronavirus patients at TMC hospitals number 2,107, which in itself is an 11% week over week decline.

Briar Forest Plaza has been sold in an off-market transaction. (Courtesy NewQuest Properties)
Briar Forest Plaza near Katy acquired in off-market sale

Briar Forest Plaza has been sold in an off-market transaction.

barbecue meats
Brett's BBQ Shop coming soon to Katy Boardwalk

The current location at 606 South Mason Road will transition into a new concept incorporating Brett’s BBQ fare.

Forest Park Southwest Cemetery will open in west Houston in late spring 2022. (Courtesy Service Corporation International)
Forest Park Southwest Cemetery to serve Katy, Sugar Land, Missouri City beginning in 2022

The more than 50-acre cemetery will be located at FM 359 and Settegast Ranch Road in Richmond.

The 9,742-square-foot school will have a student capacity of 162 with nine classrooms, an indoor gym and two shaded playgrounds. (Courtesy The Goddard School)
The Goddard School to open new Katy location

The 9,742-square-foot school will have a student capacity of 162 with nine classrooms, an indoor gym and two shaded playgrounds.

Bliss Boba sells banh mi sandwiches as well as boba tea, smoothies and other specialty drinks. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Bliss Boba opens in Katy

Bliss Boba sells banh mi sandwiches as well as boba tea, smoothies and other specialty drinks.

graphic
DATA: How population changed in Texas counties between census counts in 2010, 2020

Texas added nearly four million people between 2010 and 2020, according to the latest Census data.

fruit and vegetables on a table
5 Katy events to attend this weekend, Sept. 17-19

Looking for something to do in Katy this weekend? Check out the weekend guide.

Texas-wide public charter school system Harmony Public Schools will offer a full virtual learning option for eligible students. (Courtesy Harmony Public Schools)
Harmony Public Schools will offer virtual learning for K-12 students in Houston, Katy, Sugar Land, Cypress

Schools under the Harmony Public Schools umbrella may offer up to 10% of its student body a full virtual learning option.

At the Sept. 14 Harris County Commissioners Court meeting, County Administrator David Berry, top left, presents proposed tax rates to commissioners Jack Cagle and Tom Ramsey, Judge Lina Hidalgo, and commissioners Adrian Garcia and Rodney Ellis. (Emily Lincke/Community Impact Newspaper)
Harris County commissioners propose lower tax rates with split vote

While the proposed tax rate is lower than the current rate, tax payers may actually end up paying more since the values of homes statewide increased this year, according to County Administrator David Berry.