Superintendent of Schools Dr. Nate Carman and the Board of Trustees have their eyes set on exciting educational initiatives designed to help San Benito students succeed – not only in the classroom – but also when they enroll in college.
During a Building Committee meeting of the board on Thursday evening, Dr. Carman presented a proposal to repurpose two elementary schools – Landrum Elementary and Dr. Raul Garza, Jr. Elementary.
District leaders have been evaluating energy efficiency and studying ways to improve the functionality of all campuses and district facilities. Last fall, trustees relocated students from the Joe Callandret Positive Redirection Center – a facility that was in dire need of costly repairs – to San Benito Veterans Memorial Academy. Prior to the holiday break, leaders permanently closed down the district’s tax office after partnering with the county on tax collection matters. These moves will save the district money associated with operational costs.
A review of elementary campuses shows a declining enrollment and indicates that the campuses are well below capacity. With that in mind, Dr. Carman began implementing changes designed to help the district operate more efficiently and save money related to operating costs.
The proposed Landrum Educational Complex would be home to Gateway and Positive Redirection Center students and could possibly house other departments, if deemed appropriate.
The proposal for next school year calls for repurposing Dr. Garza to become the district’s designated Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics Academy that will target elementary students enrolled in kindergarten through fifth grade.
STEAM serves as an educational approach to learning that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics as access points for guiding student inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking. Students enrolled in these programs become innovators, educators, leaders, and learners of the 21st Century.
“We want our students to be exposed to these opportunities and to be able to compete and be successful when they enroll in college,” Dr. Carman said.
There is a high demand for individuals that specialize in these fields, and a STEAM academy would provide students with hands-on learning opportunities and specialized instruction in the areas of robotics, drones, computers and tablets.
“The proposed move would provide specialized and innovate instruction, retain existing students and recruit students,” Dr. Carman said, adding that the plans calls for using existing full-time employees, with no additional personnel needed unless additional students enroll. There would be no loss of jobs to employees due to this proposal.
Trustees will hold two public hearings – the first on Wednesday, January 24, at 6:00 PM at Dr. Garza and the second on Thursday, January 25, at 6:00 PM at Landrum; parents are invited to attend. Board action is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, February 13.
A campus principal will be selected to lead the STEAM Academy by Feb. 16. School leaders would determine admission criteria for students and enrollment is set to begin March 26.
Elementary Rezoning Proposals
Dr. Carman also presented a proposal outlining rezoning boundaries for elementary campuses as follows:
- Landrum Elementary’s zoning proposal calls for transferring 64 students to Sullivan Elementary and 82 to Dr. Cash Elementary;
Dr. Carman reviewed proposed attendance zones for Sullivan Elementary, Judge Oscar De La Fuente Elementary, Dr. Cash Elementary, Frank Roberts Elementary, La Paloma Elementary and Angela G. Leal Elementary.
“Parents can still apply for elementary schools outside of their zoned area, as is currently allowed and there is no change to that process,” Dr. Carman said.