Modern uses for elementary schools in the works

SAN BENITO — It’s a go.

The San Benito School Board has voted unanimously to pass a rezoning proposal presented by Superintendent Nate Carman that calls for the closure and repurposing of two elementary campuses.

Due to the declining rate of students enrolled in the district’s elementary campuses and the need to be competitive with the rise of charter schools, Carman proposed the closure of two elementary schools and repurposing them to fit the district’s needs.

Come next school year, elementary students will have the option to attend the district’s first-ever STEAM Academy.

Dr. Raul Garza Elementary will become the first Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics Academy and provide opportunities for students with the aptitude for math and science.

Landrum Elementary will become the permanent location for the Positive Redirection Center.

No staff will be lost during the transition.

Town halls were held last month where parents and members of the community were allowed to ask questions and voice their opinions on the matter.

Board president Michael Vargas said the public hearings were productive and allowed the board to understand the needs of the community and bring light to issues the board was unaware of.

According to Carman, the information obtained during the town halls provided insight needed to move forward with the plans to rezone and repurpose the campuses.

Carman said there were a few key points gathered from the meetings that involved the special education program and the potential loss of a neighborhood school.

The special education program at Dr. Raul Garza Elementary will stay on campus and not be rezoned to other schools.

In addition, the board is looking at providing a grandfather clause in the application for students wishing to attend the STEAM Academy.

The district is currently looking at possible principals to lead the campus and will work on obtaining a state STEM certification and creating an application process for STEAM Academy hopefuls.

All changes to the district will go into effect for the 2018- 2019 school year.

The plan calls for:

• The rezoning of all students and faculty in Dr. Raul Garza Elementary and Landrum Elementary

• Dr. Raul Garza Elementary to become the district’s first-ever Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics Academy

• Landrum Elementary to become the Landrum Educational Complex for Graduation to Gateway and Positive Redirection Center students