For many years there has been discussion about building a second public high school in Hollister, and it appears that the San Benito High School district board and administration is “getting serious” about making this happen. As I wrote before, I think their suggesting a name change for the school was the first step.
There are several issues at SBHS that are a result of having 3,400 kids on the same campus, but to say that by building a second high school that all of these will go away is absurd. Full disclosure, I am “dead set” against the building of a second public high school in Hollister, but as is my usual philosophy of life, I never complain about an issue if I am not prepared to suggest a solution to the problem. I think there are three key philosophical issues that have to be considered when proposing the building of a second high school.
First, there is the financial cost to the taxpayers of San Benito County. With inflation and the increase in technology needed at schools, a second high school will cost somewhere between $250 million-$500 million—that’s right, hundreds of millions of dollars. If you just build a campus without sports facilities, and its own transportation and maintenance yard you could probably get it for the $250 million; if you want to build a second “self-contained” campus you are looking at closer to $500 million. Even with the tremendous growth in the property tax base another huge bond issue would have to pass to build it.
Second, how would you split the population of students? Once the county and community are split into two or more high schools Hollister will forever change, and there is no indication from our neighboring communities that this will in any way be a positive thing, short or long term.
So here is my proposed solution to the problem: First, really embrace alternative education. Go back to the long term independent study program. Use online public schools like K-12, have more students in “hybrid” type programs where they take certain classes on campus, mostly hands-on “lab” type classes, and some online.
Develop more partnerships with the local community colleges for junior and senior students. Bring back “work experience” as a course and a philosophy of education.
Second, bring back a robust program at San Andreas and Santa Ana schools. During the 90s and early 2000s there were several hundred kids attending these two schools with often tremendous results. Some kids “aren’t ready” behaviorally and maturity wise to be at SBHS.
Third, the mayor, city council and county board of supervisors really need to rethink their policy on growth. The quality of life that so many people are moving to Hollister for, is being threatened and just building more schools isn’t the answer.
I think you could easily lower the population of the school by 1,000 students with these three measures.
I mentioned three key philosophical issues, but only listed two. The third is that there are a significant number of parents who do not believe in what the public schools are teaching kids. They want no part of CRT, the 1619 project, and other issues that challenge their morals being taught to their children. Building a second public high school would do nothing to address this issue, and in fact would in essence “double” the problem.
I would estimate you can reduce the SBHS population by an additional 500-600 kids by offering financial incentives to open a faith based high school in San Benito County. People have strong opinions on both sides of this issue, and there are valid concerns on both sides. Building a second public high school deserves real debate, discussion and thought.