Venture and Newcomer prepare to close

Newcomer mural at Workman Junior High

April 2015 - Venture High School and Newcomer Center, two of AISD’s alternative schools, will share a new home next year. Both are moving to what is currently Ferguson Junior High. Though they will share space, they will continue to operate as two separate schools.

Teachers and administrators from both schools gathered for planning labs Feb. 5 and again March 4 to discuss their move and figure out how they can best share their new building. They also discussed programming and their vision for improving it. The sessions were hosted by DeJong-Richter, an educational consulting firm.

The 2014 bond is creating many new opportunities, along with the need for some reshuffling. As a part of that, Newcomer Center, which serves immigrant students learning English, needs to move. There will not be enough space next year for the center in its current location, Workman Junior High, because the junior high population is going to grow significantly. About 1,000 students from Hutcheson Junior High will move to and consolidate with Workman because the Hutcheson building will be torn down and replaced with a districtwide Career Technology Education Center.

A comprehensive district facilities assessment conducted prior to the 2014 bond package determined AISD has two more junior high buildings than it needs. So in addition to the elimination of Hutcheson, Ferguson Junior High will also be closed, with its students rezoned to nearby Ousley Junior High.

But Ferguson will immediately be repurposed into the new home of Venture and Newcomer. For Venture, a drop out prevention and recovery program designed to assist young people in achieving their high school or GED diploma, the move will be a nice improvement over its current location, an old grocery store on West Arkansas Lane.

For both schools, the Ferguson location offers a newer building, the chance to leverage shared resources and the opportunity to better meet the needs of each student.