Catherine Ross, Plano Journalist
A corporate sponsorship from Texas Instruments, Inc. will fund a new academy focusing on science, technology, education and math in Plano ISD.
The Plano school board approved on Tuesday night the district's first academy.
A corporate sponsorship from Texas Instruments Inc. will fund the school, which will focus on science, technology, education and math and problem-solving.
Plano Independent School District trustees said the move gives parents and students more choices.
"In these budget times, choice has a price tag," said Tammy Richards, board president.
The idea for the academy started developing four years ago, but there was debate about how it would be funded.
"That's where corporate partnerships are so important," Richards said.
This week, the board announced a $5 million sponsorship from TI. The commitment is for $1 million annually for five years.
The company and PISD have worked together on other projects for more than 11 years.
"An academy that focuses on science, technology, engineering and math is one we know will serve the students and the community," said Arturo Sanchez, TI director of education and workforce development.
The program will be up and running by 2013, eventually serving between 600 and 1,000 students in grades nine through 12.
TI and PISD said the collaboration will serve education and the economy, helping North Texas' students become better prepared for the global job market.
"The country as a whole is not performing as well as it can be to prepare students for jobs in the 21st century," Sanchez said.
In the meantime, the district said the opportunity for public-private partnership may forever change the way public education is funded in Texas, as well as how Plano experiments with new ideas.
"The intent is not just to keep it in the academy," said Jim Hirsch, Plano associate superintendent of academic and technology services. "The intent may be to incubate it in the academy, then apply concepts to other schools as appropriate."
It could also be only the beginning.
Richards said the district plans to expand into other academy programs down the road, while seeking corporate sponsorships for future projects.