Plans are moving forward to relocate Design Science Early College High School to a permanent facility at Fresno City College.
Design Science is one of the district's specialty high schools, providing students an opportunity to concurrently enroll in Fresno City College and graduate from high school as college sophomores.
The Fresno Unified Board of Education on Feb. 8 approved allocating $6 million as the district's contribution for future construction of a new Design Science High School facility. The school has been housed in temporary buildings east of the college across Blackstone Avenue on Cambridge Avenue and sharing space with Patiño School of Entrepreneurship.
Plans have been in the works since 2004 when Fresno City College and Fresno Unified first entered into a memorandum of understanding that recognized the great promise of the early college initiative.
The next phase is to begin planning in collaboration with Fresno City College during the college's master plan process, reflecting the strengthened partnership between Fresno Unified, Fresno City College and the State Center Community College District.
"Moving Design Science actually into a permanent facility will make it even easier for our students to push ahead with college courses and accelerate their pursuit of higher education and ultimately a career," said interim superintendent Bob Nelson. "Our partnership with Fresno City College continues to be a huge plus for our students."
Carole Goldsmith, president at Fresno City College, noted that the early college high school movement and successful partnerships between community colleges and local high schools began in 1974 at LaGuardia Community College in New York.
"We are eager to begin the next phase of planning with the recently board-approved institutional planner. This will provide students with the opportunity to continue completing an associate degree and high school diploma," Goldsmith said.
Since opening its doors in 2005, Design Science has soared in popularity and has a waiting list of students for the 2017-18 school year. This year's enrollment is 237.
Gloria Martinez-Guzman, a 17-year-old senior at Design Science, has earned 48 college credits and is working toward more. She will graduate high school with an associate degree this semester and head to Grand Canyon University in Phoenix in the fall as a junior. Because she will start college with so many college credits, she plans to graduate with a master's degree in business marketing in about three years.
Gloria is excited about Design Science's move to the City College campus.
"Relocating Design Science onto Fresno City College will increase the student's safety by no longer having the students cross Blackstone," Gloria said. "The students will also be able to stay in their high school classes a little longer, which in turn allows the students to learn more."
Miriam Zuniga is an 18-year-old senior with 38 college credits and expects to have 11 more before she graduates. Her top choice of schools is University of California at Davis. Her goal is a master's degree in psychology and graduate school.
Miriam said the move will put students closer to resources such as tutoring and Student Services.
"Unfortunately, I will not be able to witness this new establishment, but this high school will always be a second home to me and knowing that others will get to enjoy it as much as me is more than enough," Miriam said.
Last year, 100% of students graduated, with 94% of graduating seniors offered admission to a four-year university. Eighty-six percent of students were first-generation college students.
The school expects 100% of its students this year to be accepted to four-year colleges. The class of 2017 includes two National Hispanic Scholars, with one admitted to Princeton on a full-ride scholarship; a semi-finalist National Merit Scholar; the school's first international admissions offer, to University of Glasgow; and five students are on track to receive their Associate of Arts degree by the time they graduate from high school.
Design Science principal Tressa Overstreet said serving the students of Design Science has been "life changing."
"The fierce determination and resiliency of our students is remarkable," Overstreet said. "There are days their accomplishments leave me speechless."
She said the Design Science staff is dedicated to "changing our community through equitable access to education."
"Design Science is a special place because of our staff and the students we are honored to serve. Fresno City College is a key part of our team in presenting college opportunities to every single student," Overstreet said.
Students are introduced to courses at Fresno City College beginning in the ninth grade. Tenth grade students take approximately 10 units of college coursework. By the time students are in 11th and 12th grade, they are taking 11 units of college coursework at Fresno City College and have the option of earning associate of arts degree by the time they graduate from high school.
Students enroll in courses listed on the Fresno City College UC Doorways list, considered honors courses for Design Science students.
Design Science is among 40 early and middle college high schools in the state.
Design Science senior Manuel Alcantar, 17, has more than 30 college credits from City College. He hopes to attend UCLA, major in political science and pursue law school.
"I am truly excited because our school, which has always outperformed district and state standards, finally will receive the campus they deserve," Manuel said.
By the Numbers for the Class of 2017:
100% graduation rate
100% will complete A-G course requirements
100% have taken the SAT/ACT
100% have completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
90% have already received admission to a four-year university, with 100% projected
Design Science Info:
For video, go to vimeo.com/fresnounified/designscience
Questions or to arrange a tour: Principal Tressa Overstreet, (559) 248-7350
Enrollment: Waiting list for 2017-18 school year