School Board Considers Increasing Ties to PCC

Javier Carbajal-Ramos
Photo by Zane Hill / OUTLOOK
Javier Carbajal-Ramos, assistant director of educational partnerships and programs at Pasadena City College, gives a presentation on dual enrollment to the San Marino Unified School District Board of Education last week.

San Marino High School students might be a step closer to dual-enrollment opportunities at Pasadena City College, depending on whether the local school board and PCC can procure a memorandum of understanding.
The San Marino Unified School District Board of Education took in a presentation on dual enrollment at its meeting last week, hearing from Javier Carbajal-Ramos, assistant director of educational partnerships and programs at PCC. SMHS has had students enroll concurrently at the college, meaning they take PCC classes on campus with PCC faculty. In dual enrollment, however, students would take PCC-approved coursework in the high school’s classrooms with PCC-approved SMHS teachers.
“These classes are really working with the school, working with the faculty at the sites, working with the administrators to ensure that we have the classes that the community is interested in,” Carbajal-Ramos said. “It doesn’t require your student to have to leave your high school and then enroll in something different; it’s part of their day.”
To develop the partnership, the board and PCC would have to enter into a College and Career Access Pathway agreement, as outlined in Assembly Bill 288, which was passed in 2016. All SMHS students would be eligible for whatever coursework emerges from the partnership and would be expected to qualify academically for the classes. Student fees would be waived and the SMUSD would be expected to take on costs associated with instructional materials (save for books, which PCC would provide).
SMHS teachers also may be able to take on the task of teaching these courses in place of PCC instructors.
“If one of your faculty [members] meets our minimum requirements, then at that point, we can adopt them into our system and make them an adjunct,” Carbajal-Ramos said.
In the event SMHS faculty take on the role, pay might present itself as a road bump, as “fortunately for you and unfortunately for us, your pay scale is a little bit higher,” Carbajal-Ramos explained.
To be offered at the high school, a class must have an SMHS student enrollment of 40-60% of PCC’s own enrollment in the same course. A PCC course also may not compete with an existing AP class at SMHS.
The memorandum of understanding also would give the concurrently enrolled SMHS students third-place priority in class registration. (They are currently seventh out of nine.) SMHS had 43 concurrently enrolled students at PCC for the 2018-19 academic year.
School board member Shelley Ryan, though supportive of enhancing educational opportunities for San Marino students, was cautious about adding to the stress burden borne by those students already, particularly in light of the district’s recent emphasis on mental health.
“I’m not for ‘Just give them more and let’s see how they do,’” she said. “I am looking at it as ‘Look at our administrators. We now have to grapple with the paperwork of all of these credits and all of these administrative things, so will you guys come in and help bring the information to the parents? Will you guys facilitate and help our students in terms of counseling or helping them, or does it fall on our counselors?’
“I’m just so appreciative of what you’re bringing to us,” Ryan continued, “but I still need to see all the nuts and bolts of it, because we’re looking at the whole child and social-emotional wellness and the impact of it all, and I’m just very fearful that the more we throw on the plates of the students — high expectations, high-performing school district. I’m just worried about that.”
Carbajal-Ramos said PCC would take on some public outreach if the memorandum of understanding is reached, and would make its counseling staff available to students who requested it.
“We never want to replace anyone at the school,” he said. “We want to support what the school’s offering.”
As the agenda item was information only, the school board took no action last week regarding this topic.

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