Michael Blalock, deputy executive director of the adjutant general’s office, which oversees all the state military forces including the corps, said the West Texas school district was chosen because it has experience teaching troubled teens in a Texas Youth Commission facility in Sheffield. He said the state did not give other school districts the opportunity to bid on the job. ...This is bascially fallout from the recent closure of the Sheffield unit in West Texas, showing how economically reliant some rural communities have come on TYC facilities (and for that matter, adult prisons).
Blalock was exploring the idea of opening a second Seaborne ChalleNGe Corps in the empty Sheffield building and asked the West Texas school district officials to provide the same kind of instruction they gave to Texas Youth Commission teens.
Iraan-Sheffield officials said they were interested in providing instruction in Sheffield and in Galveston. District officials and the adjutant general’s staff inked an agreement in June allowing Iraan-Sheffield public school teachers to teach students English, social studies, science and math. It’s the first time corps cadets will have a chance to earn a diploma.
Mytelka said some of his constituents have questioned why the West Texas district was offered a chance to earn state funding by teaching island cadets when the island public school district is facing a budget crunch.
Predicting a multimillion-dollar budget shortfall, Galveston public school district officials are considering laying off more than 20 employees.
Arnold Proctor, assistant superintendent of business and operations, has said the district might not have benefitted from an agreement to teach the cadets. He said the cost to educate at-risk teens could outweigh the benefit of increased state funding.
I still want to learn more about the scenario. For starters, why does the National Guard operate youth camps for delinquents, anyway? According to their website, this is a nationwide program for the Guard begun in the early '90s, but not all states participate. And should the Guard really be expanding boot camps right now? The National Institute of Justice categorizes military style juvie corrections as a strategy that "doesn't work," and nationally the concept has been under fire after a series of abuse allegations and untimely deaths at wilderness and boot camps.
The treatment portion of the ChalleNge program was designed in the '90s by that stalwart leader in juvenile corrections, the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
I don't have any particular stake in who provides education services for the ChalleNge program, but it's a bit unseemly to see school districts fighting over table scraps like this. Juvie corrections are usually seen as a necessary if unwelcome obligation by local school districts, but the economics of "Robin Hood" now send districts scurrying for any scheme to add students to the rolls. If the Legislature ever fixed the school finance fiasco, I have to wonder if Iraan-Sheffield ISD wouldn't be looking to drop this contract like a hot potato?