Milpitas students may be given a unique opportunity to quite literally take the right steps that allow them to move forward from high school to college.

At the Board of Education meeting on Aug. 25, Michelle Dimas, assistant superintendent of educational services, discussed details about a partnership between Milpitas Unified School District and the San Jose/Evergreen Community College District to establish the University Studies Program. The program, slated to begin in fall 2011, would allow high school students to earn community college and high school credits simultaneously by walking back and forth from different facilities on the same campus.

"So literally our high school students, whether it may be Milpitas High or Cal Hills, would be able to go to Milpitas High School and there would be a building there where they could go to college," Dimas said.

This program, once realized, will be the first of its kind in California.

The plan was conceptualized after Superintendent Karl Black and college Chancellor Rosa Perez began conversations about what certain bond money, already approved by Milpitas voters a number of years ago, could be allocated toward. After many discussions, they agreed upon a shared goal they were both passionate about furthering opportunities for high school students. It was then they began to lay the parameters for a program that could serve high school students on the Milpitas High campus in a community college facility that would be built


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by the bond money. Since that time, more groundwork has been laid.

On Aug. 14, a visioning meeting was held with Milpitas High staff, district staff, parents, San Jose/Evergreen College staff and a board member. During that time, they talked about many details mainly pertaining to narrowing the scope including what grades should be involved, what kinds of programs should be offered and how the day should be structured.

Although the final vision is still hazy, a number of things are clear.

"What we found is when you narrow it down to the most important (goals), we were pretty much on the same page," Dimas said. "While this building could be ultimately utilized by the community for other things as well, (like) evening classes and things on weekends ... it was agreed that we should be looking at the high school potential first."

The program would certainly reach out to high achievers, but Dimas said local educators also have others in mind, including "the students that are in special classes that are getting ready for college because they are in underrepresented populations," she said.

Both groups, Dimas said, would benefit from the program, which would allow them to "get out of high school with a year of college under their belt."

It was also agreed upon by those at the meeting that there should be shared services and positions, like counseling and teaching for those at Milpitas High and within the program, to help lessen costs.

It may seem Milpitas is on the fast track to college, but Dimas said there are still a number of specifics that need to be met: having both districts work together to come up with visioning statements; aligning curriculum; conducting student and parent surveys; creating focus groups and committees; and hosting community meetings.