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High School configuration proves successful with multiple campuses, programs

In February of 2019, after a three-and-a-half-year study, the high school configuration steering committee made a series of recommendations to the Board of Education for the future of Broken Arrow High School. These suggestions created much success in the district to help alleviate the growing number of students on the main campus each day.

“When that committee presented its findings, we provided solutions and opportunities for current and future students,” said Dr. Janet Vinson, superintendent of schools. “We wanted to provide a successful roadmap for our students while also extending the classroom into the community.”

The group’s recommendations included early career exploration, career pathways, early college opportunities and a new STEM facility. All of these programs are currently in full swing with record numbers of students participating, including at the new STEM facility, Vanguard Academy. The enrollment numbers there will grow and double in the coming years as freshmen and sophomores matriculate toward graduation, much like the model used for early college high school students.

The crowded main high school campus currently houses around 3,700 students. And with more than 300 students attending the Early College High School program at NSU-Broken Arrow and other college credit programs, the configuration plans continue to work two-fold by giving more post-graduation avenues to students and lowering the number of students on campus. Students enrolled in Tulsa Tech classes, as well as those working in employer apprenticeships total almost 650.

“In Broken Arrow Public Schools, we have redefined the high school experience. We are so very fortunate to be able to empower our students to explore an individualized career pathway with different BA campuses, courses and internship opportunities so that each student has a post-secondary plan,” said Crystal Barber, Broken Arrow High School principal.

With the uptick of high school students enrolled in the district’s Virtual Academy program (nearly 325) and almost 300 students attending Options Academy, the overall population reduction of the main campus comes in just over 1,600 students—an impressive number that shows the success of recommendations from the steering committee nearly three years ago.

“Right now, the high school houses a staggering number of students on campus, but just imagine that number with an additional 1,600-plus students on campus at one time. It would be nearly impossible to accommodate in a variety of ways, including class sizes, transportation needs, nutrition and more,” said Vinson. “The larger high schools do allow students to have a greater variety of programs and engagement opportunities than a smaller high school, which is a plus. Research tells us engaged students are the best indicators for completion of high school. We saw the need to create those pathways to success by offering opportunities outside of the traditional campus setting.”

The committee was adamant that future bond issues should focus on opportunities for career-targeted pathways, supporting the need for other specialized programs and off-campus options. For more information about the process of the high school configuration, visit www.baschools.org/goba.