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SAISD plans early college high school at Brooks

The San Antonio Independent School District will lease a classroom building at Brooks City-Base — shown here when it was used by Texas A&M University-San Antonio in 2014 — for an early college high school focusing on the medical and biological sciences. It will be the third Center for Applied Science and Technology, or CAST school, in San Antonio. Photo: TOM REEL

The city’s third Center for Applied Science and Technology, or CAST school, will open in the fall of 2018 at the Brooks development on the Southeast Side with a focus on medical and biological fields.

San Antonio Independent School District trustees voted Monday night to lease a 78,000-square-foot building that once served as the Brooks campus of Texas A&M University-San Antonio to house the new school, called CAST Med.

With startup funding from H-E-B, the CAST initiative partners school districts with higher education institutions and businesses to open early college high schools around specific career fields and provide job shadowing and internship opportunities.

SAISD’s partners for CAST Med have not yet been determined but an agreement with the University of the Incarnate Word, which recently opened a medical school at Brooks, is being explored, district spokeswoman Leslie Price said.

“Our goal is to focus on high-demand career pathways and we believe the medical field certainly falls into that category,” said Kate Rogers, who leads the initiative for H-E-B Chairman and CEO Charles Butt, in a prepared statement. “We think the location makes sense because it’s a growing hub of activity with the potential for great partnerships.”

Steven Goldberg, chairman of the Brooks Development Authority’s board of directors, said Brooks is helping work out the details of possible partnerships with UIW and the Mission Trail Baptist Hospital. Plans are being made to open in fall 2018, Goldberg said.

“We’re really very excited about this and we think it’s going to be a fantastic opportunity for people on that side of town to have access to medical careers that they might not have had access to,” Goldberg said.

SAISD last month opened the first school in the CAST network, CAST Tech, on the campus of Fox Tech High School. A total of five CAST schools are planned. Like CAST Tech, the school at Brooks will operate as an in-district charter school and accept half its students from Bexar County outside SAISD’s boundaries, Price said.

More details about the school, such as the number of students it will serve, are still being worked out, Price said. An advisory board of medical and biological science professionals has yet to be appointed, and the exact curriculum has not been developed, she said. It will not duplicate the curriculum used by health professions magnet programs at Fox Tech and Edison High Schools, Price said.

The lease for the CAST Med building and its 12 surrounding acres is $250,000 for the year that begins next month, $500,000 the following year and about $550,000 per year for two years after that. It will cost SAISD about $850,000 in the fifth year, after which the district has the option to buy the building. The lease runs through 2037, but the agreement states it can be terminated if SAISD has not established the school by fall 2018 or is not “working diligently on achieving that goal.”

CAST STEM, at Legacy High School in Southwest ISD and Palo Alto College, will also open in fall 2018 with 200 ninth-graders and a focus on advanced manufacturing, engineering, energy and logistics. CAST STEM’s partners announced Tuesday that Aja Gardner, the former director of science, technology, engineering, math and career education in South San Antonio ISD, has been appointed the school’s principal.

CAST Med will advance SAISD’s goal of providing more educational options for families in and out of the district, as CAST Tech has done, Price said.

“The CAST school has really turned into a wonderful school out there that gives a lot of opportunity to students, and to have another opportunity to do an additional one with a different focus is something that we really wanted,” she said.

Source: MySA By: Alia Malik

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The Centers for Applied Science and Technology (CAST) Network is a tax-exempt organization as described in Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Service code. CAST Schools are partnership schools with a focus on STEM careers, project based learning and work-based learning. Key partners include public school districts, higher education institutions, and local employers from target industries.