Improving the city’s education system can lead to academic success for students and economic growth for the community, according to members of a subcommittee.
The Core Four represent the entities in Hays County that concern public education. The City of San Marcos, Texas State, the San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District and Hays Consolidated Independent School District are all members of the education subcommittee. The Core Four hope to increase graduation rates and decrease the number of students dropping out of high school.
and City Manager Jim Nuse established the Core Four as part of the “Dream San Marcos” project, which developed a long-term vision for the area.
The Core Four outlined a plan to provide secure environments that promote education. According to a Feb. 13 University Star article, representatives of Core Four gave a presentation during a Feb. 12 Commissioners Court meeting to outline goals for education throughout the county.
Provost, the Texas State representative, said the plan outlined six vital elements to ensure San Marcos would be a “community of choice.” Hays County needs stable neighborhoods, community amenities, family-wage jobs, sustained economic development, good public schools and an educated workforce to create the environment.
Having a public education system of choice in San Marcos would bring in economic development, Bourgeois said.
The committee looked at many indicators of students succeeding in the classroom, said Stephanie Reyes, assistant director of human resources for the city.
Reyes said research suggests if students are reading on grade level by third grade, they are more likely to graduate high school. Ninth grade is another key indicator.
The Core Four recommended two initiatives to county commissioners—one dealing with pre-K education and the other pertaining to after-school programs.
Bourgeois said the committee discovered a child’s chances of succeeding in education are impacted most during pre-K, kindergarten and first- through third-grade years, according to studies from around the country.
Bourgeois said two phases were proposed. The first phase would convert the existing pre-K program from a half day to a full day. The pre-K program was provided in half days after budget cuts made last legislative session.
The second phase would recommend the community “create, endorse, support and then run” a universal pre-K program for its four-year-old citizens, Bourgeois said.
Out-of-school programs are the other main concern of the Core Four.
Reyes said the committee looked at examples from around the country of the best types of after-school programs. Wellness, fitness and nutrition programs were highlighted as some of the best ways to use the out-of-school time, according to those studies.
“It is not just the kids that are at risk with income or special needs that can benefit from these programs,” Reyes said. “All children in the community will benefit from this.”
Kim Porterfield, who co-chaired the after-school activities task force with Reyes, said another benefit of the programs is keeping children occupied between 4 and 6 p.m. These hours are the highest risk time for children, especially middle school kids, Porterfield said.
“Having out of school programs for all students reduces absenteeism (and) increases graduation rates, and parents are more engaged when their kids are involved in after-school activities,” Porterfield said. “All the things that contribute to higher success rates academically can result from kids participating in after-school-time activities.”