(Front row, left to right): San Marcos CISD Superintendent Patty Shafer, Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning Yolanda Almendarez and the “sweepers” staff.
In a 2002 Civic Report written for the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, Jay P. Green writes, “Students who fail to graduate from high school face a very bleak future. Because the basic skills conveyed in high school and higher education are essential for success in today’s economy, students who do not receive these skills are likely to suffer with significantly reduced earnings and employment prospects.”
San Marcos CISD knows this all too well and has taken a practical, hands-on approach to reclaiming dropouts. The district “sweeps” San Marcos CISD homes and businesses to recover any students who should have graduated in 2009 but have not re-enrolled in school. Administrators, professionals and paraprofessionals are going out in teams to visit with the students and/or their parents/guardians. They offer a variety of options for the students to complete their high school diploma work.
SMCISD Superintendent Patty Shafer and Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning Yolanda Almarendez were among the teams going door-to-door looking for the students.
“The teams are so excited about the numerous positive responses that we are getting and expressions of appreciation,” Shafer said. “Yolanda Almendarez and I were both very excited Tuesday afternoon when we re-enrolled our first student as a result of our home visits. It was a young lady who only lacked two TAKS tests and one course credit, but she was working instead of going to school. She probably would not have returned to school without being personally invited, but she showed up at the Phoenix Learning Center within a couple of hours of our visit. She is only one example of the many who are returning, thanks to these dedicated educators who are personally inviting them back to school.”
The options available for the students include returing to the SMHS campus full or part time or taking morning, afternoon or night classes at Phoenix Learning Center. Both transportation and childcare are provided, if needed.
Almendarez added, “This should booster our district completion rate which triggered an ‘unacceptable’ rating this year because one subgroup (economically disadvantaged) that was one-half of a percentage point too low — but, more importantly, it could change the lives of these young people we retrieve.”
SMCISD said that the district has already far exceeded the 75 percent required for all subpopulations for next year’s state accountability system.
The home visit teams included Rob Rodriguez, James Martinez, Bea Moreno, Mimi Govea, Rosie Ivarra, Kristen Robles, Clem Cantu, Linda Contreras, Gracie Campos, Rosina Valle, Micaela Aranda, Connie Perez, and Susan Brown. The community sweep was coordinated by Monica Weaver, Marina Salinas, Samantha Santos, and Martha Garza in the district attendance office.