District announces plans to open Advanced College and Career Magnet Center in Independence
INDEPENDENCE—After more than a decade of talks and planning, the Tangipahoa Parish School System will open their long-sought Advanced College and Career Magnet Center in the heart of the parish.
School Superintendent Melissa Stilley was joined by representatives of the Tangipahoa Parish School Board and Independence town leaders for the announcement Tuesday evening in a town hall-style meeting at City Hall.
“This is something our district has wanted to do for at least a dozen years, but truly dating back to my time as a principal in the late 1990s and early 2000s,” Stilley told those assembled at Tuesday’s gathering. “Of course, what makes this plan so extraordinary is the fact that we have been able to make it happen without any tax increase or bonded indebtedness added to the people of Tangipahoa Parish.”
The district recently received more than $1 million through a “Reimagine” schools grant which will be used to develop and open the campus, which will serve juniors and seniors from high schools throughout Tangipahoa Parish. Under the terms of the plan written by the district leadership, this new campus will enable the district to expand opportunities for students in AP and dual enrollment classes as well as provide students pursuing Jump Start pathway training access to an even greater number of programs in which they can attain basic or advanced credentials toward job readiness. The district hopes to be able to launch associate degree programs through the Fast Forward program at this campus as well.
“It’s a highly ambitious plan, one that we see taking our students to the next level,” Stilley said. “This is what the state considers a local innovation plan because through this program we will be able to expand in-person opportunities for students from throughout Tangipahoa Parish to receive not only career training but also AP, and dual enrollment classes at one centralized location where every student will have access."
The Advanced College and Career Magnet Center will open in the Fall of 2023 at the campus of what is currently known as Independence Magnet School, located at 300 West 2nd Street on the west side of town. The school which currently houses the town’s 5th-8th grade classes will be closed at the end of this spring semester to begin necessary renovations to prepare for the Advanced College and Career Magnet Center.
School officials said the current student body of IMS will be absorbed into the town’s two east-side schools, Independence Leadership Academy and Independence High Magnet School. Under this new configuration, ILA will be home to students in grades Pre-K to 6, and the high school will be a combined junior high and high school campus, serving students in grades 7-12, starting this fall.
“There has been much talk in previous years about dwindling enrollment at our Independence schools. Our approach is to capitalize on the opportunity we have to keep this town’s close-knit K-12 community intact by literally moving all of our students to campuses that are literally a block away from each other. Think about the synergy that we will see with these two schools! This is a win-win for our Independence community,” Stilley said.