By Michelle Gaitan

San Angelo’s triad of large educational institutions, the San Angelo Independent School District, Howard College and Angelo State University, are adapting to the times and working to meet the needs of the thousand of students they serve.

San Angelo Independent School District

After six years as assistant superintendent, Carl Dethloff took leadership of the San Angelo ISD following the retirement of Carol Ann Bonds, whom he described as an effective mentor who prepared him well to lead the district.

The district is responsible for the education of about 14,500 students and oversees more than 900 teachers spread over 25 campuses — three high schools, three middle schools, 17 elementary schools and two alternative schools.

The district also operates three centers for Early Head Start and Head Start programs.

Dual credit — the opportunity for high school students to earn college credit hours before they graduate — has become standard practice through cooperative agreements among the three education systems, giving students the opportunity to get a head start on their higher education goals.

SAISD has reached 441 students with its dual credit enrollment for the 2015-2016 school year and has increased the number of career and technical certifications from 567 in 2015 to 890 in 2016. Some students cross the stage at commencement to get their diplomas with an associate degree already in hand. They can go directly into the workforce with professional skills or enter a 4-year college at the junior level, shortening their march toward a bachelor’s degree and cutting down the cost of education and associated debt.

In 2015, the district was named one of 130 school districts across the nation to make the College Board Opportunity Honor Roll list, one of only 22 Texas schools on the list and the only one from the West Texas district, according to San Angelo ISD.

Facility upgrades over the past year include tennis courts and dressing rooms at its two high schools — Lake View and Central. The school board appropriated funds for a classroom addition at Glenn Middle School and Fort Concho Elementary. Two years ago the district completed $117 million in bond-financed improvements across all its schools.

Howard College

Howard College this year marked its 70th anniversary.

The community college system serves the Concho Valley, including Tom Green County and its surrounding communities, and offers certificates and associate degrees in technical and academic fields, along with continuing education and remedial and compensatory education.

The college’s offerings continue to expand, and it announced last year a medical assistant program, part of the health professions program, a 12-month certificate that includes college credit. Students will be able to apply to take the certification exam with American Medical Technologist to become a Certified Medical Assistant. As part of the program, students are able to work with local medical professionals to conduct their clinical externship. The first group of 11 students are due to complete credentialing and 144 hours of clinical externship in summer 2016. "The next program will begin August 29," said Jamie Rainey, Workforce & Community Development Officer.

In July, the Texas State Board of Nursing approved the request for Howard College to establish a generic and an accelerated Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) to Registered Nurse (RN) Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) Education Program in San Angelo, paving the way to establish this much-needed training in the community. Howard’s 2015 fall enrollment was 2,478 students, an increase of 9 percent from fall of 2014. The college employs 82 full time staff and about 25 to 30 part-time and adjunct faculty throughout the year, Rainey said.

“San Angelo’s campus includes the college owned Student Services Building and Academic Classroom Building,” Rainey said. “In addition, the West Texas Training Center and space at the St. John’s campus of Shannon Medical Center are leased for classroom space.”

Angelo State University

Reaching out across the international community, Angelo State University, the city’s hometown four-year center of higher education, signed a memorandum of understanding with Kathmandu Don Bosco College from Nepal in October.

The MOU, signed by ASU President Brian May and Prof. Sriram Bhagut Mathe, executive chairman of KDBC, has the potential to smooth a path for academic collaboration and add to ASU’s already robust international student program.

The potential for the two universities to work together could introduce another option for students by offering programs such as a 2+2 BBA program and increase the number of Nepalese students applying to ASU. It would be the latest addition to ASU’s ambitious efforts to recruit international students.

Serving an enrollment of 8,521 students with a teaching faculty of 351, ASU offers more than 100 majors and concentrations that lead to 41 undergraduate degrees, 21 master’s degrees and one doctoral degree. For the 12th consecutive semester, the ASU’s College of Graduate Studies recorded a new enrollment high with 1,247 students during fall 2015, which was 178 students more than fall 2014.

Part of the increased enrollment is attributed to the 1,863 students enrolled through the university’s dual credit program, which brings in high school students from 15 districts throughout West Texas.

ASU is part of the Texas Tech University System.