The Robstown school board approved two major changes in the district's campuses, which will take place in the upcoming school year.
The board voted 5-1 last week to close the Alternative Learning Campus and Disciplinary Academic Education Program and to move second-graders from Salazar Elementary School to Hattie Martin Elementary School, effective next school year.
Board member Roberto Tapia cast the lone dissenting vote in both roll calls at the May 13 meeting in opposition to the recommendations of superintendent Roberto Garcia.
The district plans on transferring Salazar Elementary School second-graders to their neighbor campus, Hattie Martin Elementary School, for academic, energy conservation and safety reasons, Garcia said.
"The main reasons for transferring over the Salazar second graders to Hattie Martin Elementary are for academic coordination," Garcia said. "As third-graders, the children are required to take the TAKS test. With this change, it will allow our second-grade staff to coordinate more closely with our Hattie Martin staff in preparing the children for their TAKS exams."
Garcia said parents have been notified of the changes via letters.
Salazar presently houses about 700 students at the campus, while all other campuses in Robstown's district, with the exception of the high school, hold approximately 500 students. Balancing the student populations at the campuses was another reason for the change, Garcia said.
"In the future, I plan to propose to the board to build a new Salazar Elementary," he said. "With Salazar holding approximately 700 students, the amount of money it would take to build this new campus would be much more than the amount it would take to build a campus to hold 500 students."
Currently, the Hattie Martin campus is cooling 10 classrooms, which are not being occupied by students or by faculty. After the second-graders transfer to Hattie Martin next school year, the Salazar campus will be able to close down the entire second-grade wing at the campus, which will aide in conserving energy and save money in Robstown's school district, Garcia said.
"The need to conserve energy within our district in important," he said. "Along with the city of Robstown's electricity increase to 30 percent, the increase also has an effect on our district as well, so we have to make some adjustments."
An issue of safety also played a factor in the transfer of the second-grade students. Salazar's campus is decades old and the section where the second-grade students are located is the oldest part of that campus.
"The canopies which protect our students from the weather are unsafe at the Salazar campus," Garcia said. "Much of the concrete in the second-grade wing area is unleveled and presently is having to be temporarily filled with plywood."
Garcia said that neither parents, nor the Salazar second-grade staff, should be concerned about the change. The second-grade teachers at Salazar will also be moving with the children to Hattie Martin Elementary. The only change is that they will be moved to a different campus.
The second change that the board approved at the May 13 meeting was to close the Alternative Learning Center campus along Main Avenue and provide those services for the students at Robstown High School, or the campus of which grade level the students are in.
Garcia told the school board that he wants to close down the ALC campus to balance the district's budget, saying the district will still offer the services for the students located at the ALC, just at a different location.
"The students located at the ALC (including the DAEP students) will not be with the other students at the high school," the superintendent said. "These students will be completely isolated."
Garcia explained that the district currently spends about $1 million a year to keep the ALC campus up and running. What he plans to do is consolidate the services at the ALC at the high school campus, since enrollment at Robstown High School has consistently declined in recent years. According to Garcia, this adjustment will save the district $500,000 per year.
"As a district, we need to maintain fiscal responsibilities," Garcia said. "Permitting this change will allow us to maintain the finances of our district."
The move of the ALC center to Robstown High School will not eliminate the services that the ALC offers for their students. According to Garcia, the district will not need to hire any new staff for this change.
Both of these changes will take place at the start of the 2008-09 school year.
"The change of transferring the Salazar Elementary second-grade students and the ALC campus is not that drastic," he said.