Speaker Summary
Greg Garland, School Leader at Apache Trail High School in Apache Junction was our speaker. Apache Trail is labeled an alternative school. Although they accept all students, they cater to students who are at high risk academically, behaviorally, or situationally, such as young parents who are continuing high school while taking care of their family. The school’s #1 goal is to provide an opportunity for all students to be successful so they can be productive members of society.
Apache Trail High School works well with the Apache Junction High School, joined in the mutual goal to provide the best opportunity for kids. Apache Trail serves grades 9-12, but has only 175 students (capacity for 220). As a result, they can serve the students who tend to get lost on larger campuses, but can progress in the smaller alternative environment.
As with AJUSD, Apache Trail has integrated technology into the curriculum with Chromebook laptop computers and a computer lab as a means to keep kids engaged and to prepare them for the working world. Recently, Apache Trail teamed up with the East Valley Institute of Technology (EVIT) to offer career and technical education opportunities to their students. They currently transport kids to EVIT for cosmetology and auto mechanics, but hope to add welding and culinary next year.
The school also offers some extracurricular programs, which vary depending on student interest. Greg is currently looking for opportunities for student involvement in the community and would love to see Rotary support in the form of volunteer mentors.
Last year, our club awarded a $500 scholarship to Apache Trail student Grace [Swafford?]. She is currently attending CAC, working toward her paramedic certification. She plans to continue her education in the medical field after she graduates from CAC. Garland explained that, “Most of our kids don’t go on to four year colleges. Many go into the military or take two year degree programs, thanks to the ‘Promise for the Future’ scholarship offered at CAC.”  
Charter schools are publically funded. The original intent behind charter schools was to set up a level of competition and choice, driving performance for all schools, but the state funds charters at a per pupil rate in excess of the amount funded to public schools. The rationale is that public schools can go to the public to request bonds and overrides to supplement funding, while the charter schools cannot; however, when public schools cannot pass bonds and overrides, they have to make do with less. As far as Governor Ducey’s proposal to provide additional funding to “highly performing” charter schools with waiting lists, Greg declined to engage in political comment; however, schools like Apache Trail that focus on helping students who are at-risk to become productive members of the community would never qualify for the additional funding.
Greg encourages members to stop by for tours if they would like to know more about Apache Trail High School.