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MISSION—The Mission Consolidated Independent School District board heard presentations on May 8 from high school principals, discussing the possibility of creating magnet schools at each campus.

Superintendent Dr. Cornelio Gonzalez stated high schools in the district are planning to have magnet programs and work under the Texas-Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (T-STEM) program. He added that a magnet program is a school within a school, offering students choices in career related fields.

Mission High School Principal Joe Lopez said once the school found out its feeder campus, Kenneth White Jr. High, would be looking at restructuring the campus with a focus in engineering, they wanted to accommodate those students.

“MHS would have a responsibility to service these kids. We would like begin with a STEM team not T-STEM, beginning with 100-125 students coming from both K. White and Alton Memorial Jr. High,” Lopez said. “The district is losing students between eighth and ninth grade, and fifth and sixth. It’s time we take responsibility….We want to take these bold steps and begin the process (to) offset the charter schools out there and the magnet schools.”

Lopez explained through this program, students would be able to graduate with not only college hours but also an associate’s degree. He added multiple districts in the Valley have already implemented these programs, like La Joya ISD.

The principal said administration has participated in a STEM conference and done research on how to maintain the campus. He added it would look something similar to Mission Collegiate High School.

“We are at the point where we are ready to recruit at our two feeder schools. We have some information ready to go and we have our criteria.”

Veterans Memorial High School Principal Leticia Peña said their campus has been in contact with Advanced Placement College Board. The College Board explained the campus’ AP Potential Report showed that 70 percent of VMHS students had a chance of scoring a 3, 4 or 5 on all of the campus’ STEM courses.

“They let us know we basically already have a STEM program in place, because we have all the courses that the program offers except for computer science,” Peña said. “I don’t know if I want to narrow it down to an academy, so that it would only be offered to a couple of students.”

Peña said in the next school year, computer science would be offered and the campus would receive funding from AP College Board of $1200 for the course. She added the campus has STEM courses offered to all students.

“We have someone in mind to teach the engineering courses. Once students take all the courses for STEM then they can branch out into either engineering or the medical field,” Peña said. “We have met with the Mission Regional director, he is on board to help us to get more practicums. I’d like to give our kids the freedom to choose, one route or the other.”

Anti-Voucher Resolution

The board approved the Anti-Voucher Resolution. According to Gonzalez, the Texas Legislature slashed $5.4 billion in funding for public education during the 82nd Legislative Session. He added in his recommendation there is no proof that vouchers, taxpayer savings grants and tax credits have been effective in improving student achievement and closing the achievement gap.

The board approved Gonzalez’s recommendation to reject all attempts to redirect public dollars away from public schools.

Technicians for Security Cameras

According to Mendoza, updating cameras in a district-wide security initiative, was brought up to the board in January. He explained, Phase 1 of that project is 70 percent complete. Once the cameras are in place, Mendoza said, they are recommending hiring two certified technicians for monitoring and upgrades.

“The technicians would have the same criteria as we currently have for technology,” Mendoza said. “All the cameras we are getting are IP cameras, so you have to understand that language and how that works in order for the cameras to be effective.”

Mendoza said during the summer the technicians would be used for maintenance and other duties under the Technology Department.

Technology Pilot Project

The board approved the 1-to-1 Technology Pilot Project; the project is envisioned to give ninth graders a Google Chromebook for note taking, completing assignments and for using digital textbooks.

Assistant Superintendent for Finance & Operations Lucio Mendoza explained at the Finance Committee Meeting that the Google Chromebook had a keyboard and resembled a laptop, and was also inexpensive in comparison to Androids and iPads.

According to Mendoza the purchase is $462,150 for around 1500 computers for all freshmen students. The light laptop will have a Google Chrome operating system according to Mendoza. All documents produced on the book are stored on Google’s “cloud” network, which allows for them to be accessed anywhere at any time.

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