By Joe Naiman
Village News Correspondent 

Bonsall High School may co-locate at Palomar College


Last updated 3/15/2019 at 2:23pm

The Fallbrook campus of Palomar College is within the Bonsall Unified School District, and the Bonsall district and the Palomar Community College District will be analyzing the possibility of an arrangement for Bonsall High School to operate on part of Palomar College’s Fallbrook site.

A joint meeting of the Bonsall Unified School District and Palomar Community College District boards was held March 5 at the Fallbrook branch of Palomar College. Although no vote was taken, both boards along with the public speakers favored further investigation to determine if it would be feasible for Bonsall High School to be on the Fallbrook community college campus.

“It was an opportunity for both the boards to have a conversation,” Joi Lin Blake, superintendent of Palomar Community College District, said.

“The meeting was just to talk and discuss whether this could be a feasible idea,” Jones said.

If both boards subsequently approve the arrangement Bonsall High School would be on the Palomar Campus through modular rather than permanent structures although the campus would be separated from the Palomar College classrooms. That separation would create distinct schools, but the Bonsall students would be close enough that they could take Palomar College classes.

“I’m real excited about the idea,” BUSD superintendent David Jones said. “I think it would give our kids a tremendous opportunity to be better prepared.”

Students would receive both credit toward their high school graduation requirements and college credit for classes taken at Palomar College.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity for students who are ready and willing to take on higher-level courses and opportunities at the college level, and they will be right there on campus to do so,” Jones said.

“It also creates an affordable option for parents,” Blake said.

Palomar College would waive fees for the Bonsall High School students.

“The students can complete their associate degree before they graduate from high school, and it would be absolutely free,” Blake said. “They could get some of that freshman and sophomore year coursework done at Fallbrook at no cost to them.”

Educational administrators refer to an early middle college school model for a situation in which high school students take college general education courses while still in high school.

“We would be following and implementing that model if this were to come to fruition,” Blake said.

The arrangement would also give Bonsall High School students an opportunity to take courses other than the basic requirements for an associate degree.

“It’s going to open up for students who are truly gifted at being able to handle higher-level college courses,” Jones said. “I very much like having the opportunity for advanced students to be able to walk into a class.”

Community colleges often have more foreign language options than high schools. Bonsall High School offers some Spanish classes, and Jones said that students who desire to learn Spanish at a more advanced level would have that opportunity from Palomar College courses.

“You can get better classes where there’s more of a fluency or conversational level,” he said. “That’s another example of how it can be an absolutely wonderful thing for a child.”

That would also apply to other foreign languages taught at Palomar College.

The Fallbrook campus of Palomar College also has pre-nursing and business programs the high school does not offer.

Palomar College has degrees for 250 programs.

“If they don’t have it in Fallbrook, they can take it at the main campus,” Blake said. “They can take lessons online as well.”

Jones said that for classes offered at the Fallbrook campus the personal interaction of a classroom provides advantages over online courses.

“The collaboration and communication is very different,” he said.

The career technical education programs offered on the San Marcos campus include cabinet making, automotive technology, welding and water and wastewater technology.

“There will be opportunities for those students as well,” Jones said of Palomar College’s industrial arts offerings.

“It provides them with an opportunity,” Blake said. “They’ll be able to complete their degree there.”

Bonsall High School utilizes the New Technology education model which includes internships. In 1996 the Federal Communications Commission had a regulation limiting an ownership to four radio stations in the same market. When PAR Broadcasting obtained a higher-powered radio station PAR maintained its limit by donating 1320-AM to Palomar College. KKSM operates from the Palomar College campus in San Marcos.

“That’s another opportunity for that type of career or intern,” Jones said.

“It’s an affordable option that the college is offering,” Blake said.

Palomar College has a fire technology program whose instructors include former North County Fire Protection District deputy fire chief Ed Sprague. One of the issues the Bonsall school board will determine if Bonsall High School moves to the Palomar College campus will be which Palomar classes will count toward the science requirement for Bonsall High School graduation.

“We haven’t done any of the details of that,” Jones said.

Only full-time Palomar College students can play for the Comets’ athletic teams, and one of the issues to be determined is physical education and athletics for Bonsall High School students. Although the Comets’ sports facilities are at the San Marcos main campus, some athletic-related courses may be available in Fallbrook.

“We’re looking at offering some form of kinesiology,” Blake said.

Kinesiology lecture courses are already on the Fallbrook campus.

“We're just trying to figure out how to offer the lab,” Blake said.

“There could be a lot of opportunities that could be developed over time,” Jones said. “That’s exciting to think about what new opportunities will be. They can open up all kinds of doors for classes.”

The Bonsall school district would lease rather than acquire the Palomar land.

”It would be long-term, but it would be a lease agreement,” Blake said.

Since the arrangement with Palomar College would be a lease and the community college might need that space in the future, the Bonsall district will likely retain the 50-acre property off Gird Road which has been planned for a high school. Although the classrooms would be on the Palomar College campus in Fallbrook, the Gird Road site might be used for Bonsall High School athletic facilities or for Future Farmers of America barns, and the Gird Road site could also be used for an elementary school or for a continuation school.

“It certainly could be used for that,” Jones said.

The use of the Gird Road property will be a separate discussion.

“The board is not at all discussing that as an option at this point,” Jones said. “But there’s a potential for that.”

Also to be determined is whether Bonsall High School would have a split campus with juniors and seniors attending the Palomar campus while freshmen and sophomores stay at the Sullivan middle school site.

“There are still details to work out,” Blake said.

Both boards would collaborate on which years of Bonsall High School students would attend classes on the Palomar College campus. The Bonsall district would also take the lead on matters related to transporting Bonsall students to the community college although parking and loading-unloading issues will require Palomar involvement.

“It’s a work to become a reality,” Jones said. “There are things we still need to work out.”

Addressing specific issues and developing a memorandum of understanding and an implementation plan will be subsequent actions if both districts find the arrangement to be feasible.

“If it looks like it is feasible, we would begin drafting an MOU and a schematic design,” Jones said.

The Bonsall High School students could be attending classes on the Palomar College campus as early as 2019-2020, especially if a phased approach starting with juniors and seniors is used.

“I’m hopeful and excited,” Jones said.

“I think this is an excellent opportunity for the community,” Blake said.

“It’s a win-win for Palomar. It’s a win-win for Bonsall High School students,” Jones said. “These are just opportunities and possibilities at this time. They’re all tremendous exciting opportunities to think about and work out.”


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