Superintendent turns school district from 'dropout factory' to state recognized

The Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District used to known as the "dropout factory" among school districts across the state.

Once at 500 students a year, now only about 50 to 60 never return to the classroom, according to Superintendent Dr. Daniel King.

Dr. King has been recognized across the nation for his efforts.

Since becoming superintendent, he cut the annual number of dropouts by 90 percent in 5 years.

"One way is by going out to every home of every young person who does not return to school and convincing them to come back," he explained.

His grassroots strategy connects dropouts to community colleges.

It's an incentive based approach to learning where Dr. King says students can be put on a path to receive a certification or an associate degree for more meaningful employment.

"Instead of high school being something that students maybe see as separate and disconnected from their life and their future, we're connecting them right on to their future and a career pathway."

The successes under Dr. King are a chief reason why dozens of other school districts have visited the PSJA I.S.D. in the last year.

His programs have doubled the number of high school graduates and doubled the number of college bound students.

In addition, more than 1,500 students take college courses while in high school, with about 60 of them earning an associate degree by graduation, according to Dr. King.

"Come to school and we will prepare you for college," he said. "We'll connect you to college and we'll help you to get through college."

The superintendent was recently awarded the 2012 Key Communicator Award from the Texas School Public Relations Association or TSPRA for his significant contributions to the public's understanding of the public schools in Texas through effective communications.

Dr. King is hopeful the new school year will only bring improved enrollment and academic achievement. Click here to join Ryan Wolf TMs Facebook pageClick here to follow Ryan Wolf on Twitter