(Seguin) -- Going to school and earning a high school diploma just got even more flexible. Seguin High School is announcing its participation in the new Optional Flexible School Day (OFSDP)Program.
High School Principal Hector Esquivel recently announced the start of the new program at both the SHS and Mercer Blumberg Learning Center. Esquivel says while the program is not new, it will be new for Seguin High School.
"The idea behind it actually comes from the Texas Education Agency. I think, a couple of years ago, they realized that we were losing a lot of students due to unique situations where the students had to work, they weren't able to stay in school because they have to support their families or they were so behind in school that maybe they were over aged and they wanted to come back but were embarrassed because of their age. So the state decided to open up the Optional Flexible School Day program. Basically, it's open to every high school in the state of Texas. They just have to apply, meet certain requirements which we do at Seguin High School and just go forward from there," said Esquivel.
Esquivel says over the past year, he has been able to recognize the needs of many students -- needs that require them to miss school or just quit altogether.
"The typical kid in this program, he has definitely the ability to pass. The only thing that's getting in their way really is life outside of the school where they have to work to support their families for help. They may have some medical issues where they can't be at school the whole time. They still want to be part of coming to school and not being home schooled. Those are two typical scenarios, but the main one would actually be kids that have been absent because they have unique situations at home. They have to work. We know those kids are very capable. They've proven it to us. We're not really taking any kids that are so far behind that they're not going to be able to function independently in that program. Another unique situation, that the kid may already be say for example they are at TLU and they may need two classes to complete their high school requirements, we would actually put them in that program. So they can take those last two classes and have the flexibility to work on their university requirements a little bit more which are a lot tougher on them," said Esquivel.
Esquivel says by participating in the program, kids will find all the accommodations needed to finish school. He's ideally, students have to come into the school building at least 600 minutes every two weeks. Everything else will have to be accomplished off campus.
"Let's say I'm in the flexible school day program and I come in from eight to 10 in the morning on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays. From eight to 10, I come in and all I do is work on my actual credits that I need. Like for English, it could be Spanish, it could be algebra one, anything really that we offer on our online format. So you work for about two hours and then you actually go to a job that you have out in the community. Then you can come back, if you'd like, after or for the most part, students are going to work full time the rest of that day. Then at night, they're expected to log on and we can track them when they log onto the system and how long they work as well at home. Basically, they continue to study at home when they get home from work or the next day that they're not at work. If they're not here and they go to work full time, they can log on at home and do that. As long as they come in during the specified times, that they would mutually agree to, then that's all we would need," said Esquivel.
Esquivel says the campus will initiate this program with its first batch of 25 students. He says these students were identified as potential candidates well before the school applied for the Optional Flexible School Day Program.
"We actually established that quota last year based on looking at our kids and speaking to the families and speaking to them personally about their feasibility of maybe being in this type of program and there was interest there quickly. We had over 25 students actually, but some of them were still on the fence -- 'I want to try again one more year full time etc. but there's definitely 25 that met the criteria and the parents were on board," said Esquivel.
Esquivel says the best part of launching the program might just be the reaction of students and their parents.
"First of all, I think I saw a sigh of relief on both students and parents that there was an option there that really could work for them. Some of them actually were like 'you're kidding? Is this true?' So, they were very unaware that something like this was out there," said Esquivel.
Esquivel says in the end, the goal of the program is to improve graduation rates for those students who have the ability just not the time to attend school.
"Our jobs as leaders and as educators is really to bring opportunities like this to our kids. I think that it's going to be a very powerful program. I really do see it changing a lot of what we do at Seguin High School. We're giving kids more opportunities to be able to finish," said Esquivel.
Esquivel says campus staff is excited to see the program in action. He says as time goes on, they'll determine whether the enrollment for the program will be expanded to include even more students.