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San Benito CISD seeks options following drop in enrollment

In the last few years, the San Benito CISD school board began noticing a drop in enrollment due to other school district's open enrollment and charter schools.

In the last few years, the San Benito CISD school board began noticing a drop in enrollment due to other school district's open enrollment and charter schools.

So in 2016, the district embarked on a five-year plan to bring in more students. San Benito CISD’s superintendent and board argued that an aging school infrastructure wasn't helping to retain students.

Leaking roofs, fading awnings, rust and paint that has begun to dim are most of the cosmetic issues superintendent Nate Carmen says will be taken cared of in June.

"Some of the roofs are 20 to 30 years old,” Carmen said. “Our high school is right at 40 years old and has not had any major renovation in those 40 years."

All of these changes are part of the district's five-year strategic plan passed in 2016, with expected completion by 2021.

While some funding comes from the maintenance and operation fund, the district has changed it's fiscal calendar to save money.

"We anticipate about $12 million being added to our fund balance,” Carmen said. “Those funds will be used for some of the renovations."

In an effort to keep students from leaving San Benito CISD to other districts, Doctor Garza Elementary School will be converted into a STEM school this fall. The STEM curriculum will focus on fine arts along with science, technology, engineering and math.

Carmen says that the school board is considering creating a bond committee, which will look into acquiring a $26 million bond that will bring a fine arts facility and aquatics center to the district. The bond will take 20 years to pay off and will not increase taxes.

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