By GARY LONG | Staff Writer
When school opens Aug. 28, Cummings Middle School will mark the beginning of a new era and open as a dual-purpose campus for Career and Technical Education and the new home of Brownsville Learning Academy alternative high school.
During the summer the Brownsville Independent School District is refurbishing and repurposing Cummings as a showcase campus for workforce readiness. The CTE department is moving from the old Webb Elementary campus at 1351 E. Polk St., and BLA high school is moving from its old home at 4850 Morrison Road.
The new school will have things other schools take for granted but that BLA and the Webb campus lacked like an auditorium and gymnasium. It will offer the coursework available at BISD’s early college high schools, along with the CTE courses offered at those schools, and formerly, at the Webb campus.
“Our job is to guide the students to get jobs, to help them get certified for job opportunities with different job skills” BLA High School Principal Teresa de Saro said. “I’ve seen these kids struggle. Our goal at BISD is to offer them more opportunities.”
Teri Alarcon, the area assistant superintendent for early college high schools, BLA and the district’s other two alternative schools, the Brownsville Academic Center and Lincoln Park School, said the aim at Cummings is to get students ready to join the workforce or pursue their education to the next level.
“It’s a job-readiness curriculum,” she said. “The whole goal of the district is to work with the community, to provide students with the soft skills. We get a lot of support from the community, which makes it real exciting. The goal is really to back our students to the next level. … This enhances what the district is already doing.”
BLA opened in 2005 as a credit-recovery school. Many of its students are past high school age, behind in their credits and in a hurry to graduate, de Saro said.
“They’re behind, but we can accelerate them and give them the courses they’re needing,” she said.