The future of San Marcos’ youth was discussed Monday during the first installment of a series of “Community Conversations about Student Hope, Engagement and Wellbeing.”
Residents who attended Monday’s meeting discussed local youths’ responses to a recent Gallup Student Poll conducted for the Youth Master Plan, which aims to improve conditions for San Marcos students. In order to gain insight on the youth of San Marcos, 3,788 students in fifth through twelfth grade took the poll to measure hope, engagement and wellbeing.
According to the poll, 8.7 percent of students in the class of 2011 dropped out of the San Marcos Consolidated School District, while 84.6 percent graduated on time. Only 38 percent of those who graduated were college-ready in English and math.
Speakers discussed students’ feelings toward school based on the answers to a number of questions. Of SMCISD students ages 10 to 18 who took the poll, 16 percent said they were discouraged with school and 15 percent said they were actively disengaged. Thirty seven percent of SMCISD students said they were struggling with their wellbeing.
According to the Youth Master Plan, students should be academically successful and workforce-ready by the time they graduate high school. The plan promotes this by taking steps to provide a healthy, active and physically and emotionally safe environment.
Miguel Arredondo, public administration sophomore, is a San Marcos native and an intern for Place 1 Councilwoman Kim Porterfield. He said there has always been a perception that San Marcos’ schools are not performing at the level they should be.
“I’m hoping this Youth Master Plan helps us,” Arredondo said. “We are going to identify what the problems or issues are and come up with solutions to solve the problems.”
Porterfield said city officials are trying to increase resources and jobs to keep families in town. Porterfield said the Youth Master Plan aims to increase children’s qualities of life to combat disengagement, wellbeing and discouragement.
Ian Faigley, senior manager for the Forum for Youth Investment, said the Youth Master Plan is an exercise to discover where the city is and “where the youth are.” The Forum for Youth Investment, a non-profit organization based in Washington D.C., was contracted by the city to create the Youth Master Plan.
“This is the first time that the city has been specifically focusing on the youth,” Faigley said. “This is a city that is really great for families to live.”
Suzanne Hershey, senior fellow for the Forum of Youth Investment, said the purpose of Monday’s meeting was to gain input on the Youth Master Plan.
“I don’t think we’re ready for a presentation on this, I think we need to explore and then we should get back with what the plans should be,” Hershey said. “The next Community Conversation will give people in different parts of the city a chance to give their input.”
Three more discussions will be held in March to gain resident feedback. The Youth Master Plan is slated for completion in June.