A crowd of students flood the sidewalk at San Benito High during lunch.

Committee urges trustees to move forward with a master plan,
possible second high school campus
Committee urges trustees to move forward with a master plan, possible second high school campus

The architectural firm hired by San Benito High School trustees to create a master plan – which will include renovations for the current campus, site acquisition suggestions and plans for a new campus – this week is putting together a schedule of when plans will be completed.
Staff members from NTD are expected to meet with the facilities committee in mid-February to finalize the scope of the project. The contract is for $45,000.
“I’m kind of excited,” said Debbie Fisher, the finance director for the high school district. “This is an exciting adventure for the whole community. No one wants to put more on their plate, but we are bringing this up because we are willing to put more on the plate.”
San Benito High School has nearly 2,900 students enrolled this year, based on numbers reported in October. While an administration building on what is called the “new campus” is empty, the classrooms are filled to capacity, Fisher said. The newer buildings are on Nash Road, west of the main campus.
“They are almost always packed because people like to use them because they are new,” she said.
The idea for a master plan came about when the high school trustees created a facilities committee last year that included members of the community. The group included some trustees and administers from the high school, but also included representatives from the Community Foundation for San Benito, the YMCA, county supervisors and other community leaders.
“They met six times and during those six meetings discussed what they felt were the needs of Hollister, not just the high school,” Fisher said. “They decided we need a smaller school, a second high school or a satellite.”
A large part of the discussion also included talk of partnerships with other agencies in the community such as the San Benito County Free Library and the YMCA.
“All these dreams came out – such as a synthetic field and all kinds of concepts,” Fisher said. “They recommended moving forward with developing a master plan.”
The trustees interviewed architect firms last fall before selecting NTD for the project on Jan. 25, with a 3-2 vote. A master plan was developed five years ago, but it was focused on expanding the current campus rather than creating a new campus.
“The one developed several years ago was based on a different vision and community,” Fisher said. “In the past, we thought of expanding this campus to become larger. Since that time more people have realized that smaller community campuses (are better) – less kids on campus is better for education.”
Although the plan from five years ago will be used by the recently hired architect, Fisher said ideas about education have evolved enough that it will need to be modified significantly.
To build the new campus, the trustees would have to put forward a bond measure to raise the funds. Fisher said the size of the bond would be based on the master plan, but also the bonding capacity of the community. The bonding capacity is based on the number of property owners and how much they can be taxed per parcel.
If the district decides to move forward with a new campus, it will renovate the current campus as part of the process.
“You never build a new site without making sure that both schools provide equal opportunities to all students,” she said. “Both sites need to combine partnering with the community – a place people can use the pools and the fields or try to partner with the community college – just trying to leverage the facilities.”
Fisher said as the process moves forward, community members will continue to be involved.
“We wouldn’t go down this pathway if we didn’t look into all the things Hollister needs,” she said. “We will leverage the partnerships … this is so exciting. If we can really pull it off it will help revitalize Hollister, which will be good for everybody.”

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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