Mar 18, 2024 - News

SAISD receives federal dollars for college readiness

Illustration of a graduation cap but the tassel is a ladder.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

San Antonio Independent School District is adding staff to help students prepare for life after graduation with a three-year, $4.5 million U.S. Department of Education Innovation and Modernization Grant.

Why it matters: The on-campus support aims to help students and teachers align their coursework with future career paths, to make college achievable for students in a district where nearly 43% of graduates are considered "at risk" of dropping out.

How it works: Christina Mank-Allen, director of career and technical education at SAISD, tells Axios the funding will go toward hiring seven college and career readiness roles called "C3 coaches" and a program director.

  • "That particular position will be in the classroom quite a bit to help teachers make sure that we're aligning the career pathways and then also making sure that we're preparing them for the testing," she says.
  • The goal is to increase the district's graduation rate, which is currently 87%, below the state average of 90%.

Context: U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio) helped secure the grant for SAISD to be allocated evenly among Burbank, Brackenridge, Highlands, Jefferson, Lanier and Sam Houston high schools.

By the numbers: SAISD was one of two districts in Texas to get the grant and one of 19 in the U.S.

What they're saying: "This year's graduating seniors started high school during the toughest days of the pandemic, but they've shown an incredible determination to succeed and inspire the younger students who look up to them," Castro said during a tour of Burbank recently.

Yes, but: SAISD's financial challenges are ongoing. The district is cutting 216 positions as enrollment declines and federal COVID-19 funds expire, signaling another grim financial school year on the heels of this year, which led to the decision to "right size" and close 15 schools.

What's next: The grant has the potential to be extended for two more years.

  • Mank-Allen says SAISD is currently interviewing internal employees for the new positions.
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