Investing in students’ educations could pay off in the future for the local government, county and community, officials say.
Representatives of Core Four, a collaboration of entities in Hays County, held a presentation during the Feb. 12 Commissioners Court meeting to outline goals for education within the county. The Core Four represents Hays County, the City of San Marcos, San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District and Texas State.
Presenters for the Core Four Education Committee included Councilwoman Kim Porterfield, Place 1, Stephanie Reyes, assistant to the city manager, and Provost. Bourgeois said the committee began as part of the Dream San Marcos project, which provides a vision statement regarding development in Hays County.
Bourgeois said the project outlined the six elements of “communities of choice,” which are good public schools, stable neighborhoods, family-wage jobs, community amenities, sustained economic development and an educated workforce.
Having “schools of choice” in San Marcos would attract a number of businesses to Hays County, Bourgeois said.
Bourgeois said the committee found through an “enormous” amount of research children’s chances at succeeding in life and education are most impacted during the pre-K, kindergarten and first- through third-grade years.
Bourgeois recommended adding a full day to the school district’s pre-K program. The program was cut back to half days due to budget cuts during the last legislative session.
Porterfield recommended making out-of-school activities available for students, which she said can lead to better attendance, engagement in learning and grades and a lower likelihood of dropping out.
Porterfield said for every single student who can be changed from a dropout to a graduate, more than $200,000 in tax revenues is brought to the city. She said there are lower expenditures for the government during the student’s lifetime.
“Investing in out-of-school time pays off for government,” Porterfield said.
Out-of-school programs could additionally benefit the private sector. Porterfield said a working parent could lose up to eight workdays per year because of a lack of childcare in the summer. This translates to a loss of approximately $300 billion for businesses across the country.
Reyes said another benefit of out-of-school programs is they prevent children from being unsupervised between 4 and 6 p.m. She said this is the highest-risk time for a child.
Reyes said the committee looked at nationwide practices regarding the best types of out-of-school programs. She said wellness, fitness and nutrition were identified as the areas best for the programs.
A nutrition program, for instance, would provide healthy snacks for students while counseling them on how to make sound dietary choices, Reyes said.
Reyes said there are existing out-of-school programs in San Marcos, but they might not be aligned with one another or are less comprehensive.
County Judge Bert Cobb agreed with the importance of out-of-school programs from Hays County having some of the lowest standardized test scores in the corridor.
“The school system is integral to the society at large, particularly to the economic development of Hays County,” Cobb said.
Cobb encouraged the committee to look to retired teachers for their ideas involving education.
Bourgeois said the committee will continue to make presentations to the community, including the San Marcos City Council and district school board.