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SAISD AND H-E-B Team Up For New Tech Magnet Schools

Eileen Pace
Texas Public Radio
Kate Rogers, H-E-B spokeswoman, SAISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez, and David Heard, CEO of Tech Bloc presenting H-E-B's check for $3.6 million to CAST to get the program started.

A network of new, tech-education magnet schools is coming to downtown San Antonio.

The Centers for Applied Science and Technology, or CAST, is the result of a public-private partnership between the SAISD and a consortium led by H-E-B, which donated $3.6 million dollars to get the program started.

SAISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez says a group of community, technology and government leaders have been visiting other technology schools around the country for the last year. They're working together to plan the curriculum for the first CAST school.  

“We’re also partnering with UTSA and Texas A&M. Students will graduate with a minimum of 30 college credit hours, if not 60. So that’s our goal," Martinez said. 

Martinez believes the first high school will be full by the time it opens its doors in 2017.  Its location has yet to be finalized but will be in downtown San Antonio. The Tech District itself is situated downtown to allow ease of access for students to visit tech companies for apprenticeships or hands-on guidance. Most of San Antonio's tech start-ups are located in the downtown area. 

David Heard, CEO of Tech Bloc, says the high school is critical to educate kids to help the city continue to build its rapidly-growing tech sector.  Heard cited a recent ranking that placed San Antonio ninth in the country for the number of start-up tech companies during the previous year.

“Three years ago, we were not even on the list of publications that track the number of start-ups inside a city’s limits," Heard said. "We appeared two years ago as No. 20 and last year as No. 9. So we’re trending in that direction. This energy is being driven by the start-up culture happening downtown.”

CAST Tech will offer core courses along with cybersecurity, coding, gaming, animation, and digital media training as well as business courses designed for tech entrepreneurs.

About half the slots will go to kids in SAISD and other students will be invited to apply for the other half of the openings. 

Eileen Pace is a veteran radio and print journalist with a long history of investigative and feature reporting in San Antonio and Houston, earning more than 50 awards for investigative reporting, documentaries, long-form series, features, sports stories, outstanding anchoring and best use of sound.