San Benito aims to be more competitive in recruiting students

SAN BENITO — In an effort to recruit and retain elementary students, the San Benito school district is looking to make some changes.

That means becoming more competitive and innovative.

Next month, Superintendent Nate Carman will propose an initiative that calls for using elementary campuses efficiently by rezoning and repurposing campuses, including the creation of a STEAM campus.

STEAM is Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics. These campuses take the core purpose of STEM campuses with the inclusion of fine arts to bring a more hands-on approach to learning.

Why they’re doing it

The move to create a more innovative campus comes as a response to the declining enrollment of students in the elementary levels.

In an effort to retain and possibly recruit former elementary students that have left the district to enroll in a charter campus, Carman is proposing to turn Dr. Raul Garza, Jr. Elementary into a STEAM campus.

According to Carman, the campus will continue to teach the curriculum required by the state of Texas but will become more inclusive with hands-on learning.

The creation of STEM and STEAM campuses has been on a rise throughout the country in an effort to prepare students for growing work fields in the future.

Currently, the district has been examining what works and doesn’t work in established STEAM campuses across the country with a focus on campuses in the Fort Worth, Dallas and Houston areas.

Carman said he is aware of STEAM campuses at the middle school and high school level, but is unaware of any elementary STEAM campuses in the Valley.

Carman said the addition of the fine arts will cater to the right and left brain to “develop the full child.”

“If it’s approved, we will pursue a national certification,” Carman said.

Requirements will be created for students with an aptitude for science and math who are interested in attending the campus.

Big changes

The campus will not contain zoned students unless they have applied and passed the requirements.

Students and teachers currently attending Dr. Raul Garza, Jr. Elementary and Landrum Elementary will be rezoned to other elementary schools if the proposal is adopted by the school board.

A rezoning proposal public forum will be held on Jan. 24 and 25 with the final vote by the board of trustees to be held in February.

If approved, the district is ready to move forward with repurposing of Landrum Elementary and Dr. Raul Garza, Jr. Elementary to fit the needs of the district for the 2018-2019 school years.

Landrum Elementary would be converted into a Positive Redirection and Gateway to Graduation Campus for at-risk high school students and Dr. Raul Garza, Jr. Elementary would become the district’s first STEAM campus.