Friday, June 17, 2016

SAISD Partners With Tech Bloc, H-E-B to Open a Downtown High School

Posted By on Fri, Jun 17, 2016 at 5:00 AM

click to enlarge SAN ANTONIO INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT
  • San Antonio Independent School District
The San Antonio Independent School District plans to open a tech-focused in-district charter high school in 2017 — the first of its kind in Bexar County.

Dubbed CAST Tech, the school will be the first of five H-E-B sponsored career-themed high schools in a network called the Centers for Applied Science and Technology (CAST). The new charter school will be in downtown San Antonio, near Geekdom — a co-op space shared by web developers, entrepreneurs and techies. 

CAST Tech will focus on technology and entrepreneurship and is funded through a $3.6 million donation from H-E-B and Charles Butt, chairman and CEO of the Texas-based grocery chain. Tech Bloc, which celebrated its one-year anniversary Thursday, will help educators develop a curriculum that will feature two pathways for students — one focused on cyber security, coding, gaming, animation and digital media and the other concentrating on business analytics, informatics, business administration, banking and finance.

SAISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez says the school, where students will be able to earn enough credits for an associate's degree and have opportunities to acquire industry-recognized certificates, will better position students for success.

"The new school exemplifies the type of real-world learning opportunities that put students on a higher-level playing field when it comes to college and career readiness," Martinez said.

Private companies like Rackspace, USAA, Geekdom and the Open Cloud Academy will offer students internships and mentoships, which Tech Bloc will help facilitate.

However, despite H-E-B is $1.4 million short of the $5 million it says is needed to acquire property and build CAST Tech and a second CAST school that will be announced later this year.

Kate Rogers, H-E-B's vice president for corporate communication and health promotion, says the rest of the funding for the first two CAST schools will come from private sources. The remaining CAST schools will be scattered throughout San Antonio, but Rogers said there's no timeline on the rollout or on how much it will cost to complete the network of five CAST schools.

Martinez said once CAST Tech is operational, it won't draw funding away from SAISD's other schools and state funding will cover the cost of the in-district charter school.

CAST Tech's student population will be 50 percent from SAISD and 50 percent from other Bexar County school districts. There is no admission test and all students from SAISD and the county can apply.

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