The first two days of the 2018-19 school year at San Benito High School were a reminder of the promise and opportunities for students, faculty, staff and the administration. Following a busy summer of construction that has featured continued improvements and upgrades to the campus learning environment, the SBHSD Board of Trustees and I thank parents, neighbors and the community as a whole for their ongoing support and patience as the district works through its multi-year, multi-faceted construction projects—many of which are funded by voter-approved bond measures.
The theme of my welcome back presentation to faculty and staff on our first day together after the summer break was “San Benito High School District is On the Move.” We are not just constructing facilities, we are building momentum following the first year of the district’s Strategic Plan, which will provide guidance and focus five years into the future. The board in June approved the Whole System Collaboration model that defines how the district operates and lays out what’s important to us. We use specific indicators of success to hold our efforts accountable through the leadership, support and guidance of the trustees.
The board’s goals of academic excellence, an inclusive environment for all students, facilities maintenance and construction completion, and continued fiscal solvency, are reflected in everything we do.
San Benito High School’s goal to become a Gold Ribbon School is an ever more realistic target as we can point to 17 career pathways offered through our Career Technical Education department, the burgeoning engineering and robotics programs, the opening of the CTE, Visual and Performing Arts and Academic (VAPAA) buildings, and the 177,000-square-foot physical education multi-use field that will provide students year-round access to healthy activities.
The model of student inclusion earned the school a Unified Champion designation from the Special Olympics this past school year and our co-teaching program along with MTSS (multi-tiered systems of support) efforts ensure that every student has the opportunity to receive the support they need on campus.
In 2017-18, the school’s average daily attendance was an astounding 97.4 percent, up from an impressive 96.3 percent the year before. With the start of this school year, we are rolling out a new bell schedule, implementing a weekly homeroom period and three other days per week for Academic Focus Time.
A spirit of partnership is enhanced through our interactions with the teacher and classified employees’ unions, Gavilan College—which will offer multiple courses on campus this year—as well as our agreements with the City of Hollister, County of San Benito and Sunnyslope County Water District to make the Nash Road crossing safe for students while adding traffic calming measures in the neighborhoods around the school and the bypass road south of campus.
Our state-of-the-art aquatics complex, stadium and softball complex are progressing on schedule, along with an additional 100 parking spaces, restrooms, and much more.
In just the past 11 months, the district has saved nearly $100,000 in energy costs through an energy-efficiency program that has included the installation of 3,000 LED lights, the addition of building automation systems, new HVAC systems and the nearly complete solar panel project in the Baler Alley parking lot—which is expected to save the district more than $13 million over the life of the project.
Besides new construction, the district’s maintenance and custodial staffs have been working diligently to provide a complete facelift to the 300s classrooms, new paint to buildings around campus, and drought-tolerant landscaping that is beautiful in addition to being water-wise.
I am proud to report that the district is adding four clean-burning diesel buses to its fleet, along with the first new electric school bus in the county (purchased with grant funding). All of these vehicles have the latest in safety features, including back-up cameras, push bars and seat belts.
On behalf of the certificated and classified employees, administrators and board members at San Benito High School District, we wish everyone a wonderful school year. It’s an exciting time to be a Haybaler.
Dr. Shawn Tennenbaum is superintendent of the San Benito High School District