This column was written by San Benito High School District Superintendent Shawn Tennenbaum and Trustee President John Corrigan. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent BenitoLink or other affiliated contributors.
By working together, our community has made it possible for San Benito High School to create a world–class learning and working environment for students and staff members. During its more than 125-year history, San Benito High School District has grown along with our community. Thanks to our community‘s generous support of bond Measures G and U in recent years, and our District’s sound fiscal stewardship of those funds, we have upgraded and modernized facilities with a focus on delivering the best education and equitable opportunities for all students. If you haven’t been on campus lately, you can see a one-minute video on our home page (https://www.sbhs.sbhsd.org/facilities) showing the many opportunities we are able to deliver to our students today and into the future.
Our mission is to educate ALL students to their highest potential so they will have the greatest range of options upon graduation. Our community’s investment in and support of that ideal has allowed us to transform a campus that was desperately in need of modernization and new facilities into an exceptional educational environment.
Guided by our Facilities Master Plan, we have upgraded existing infrastructure and built state-of-the art facilities including a Career Technical Education building, the Science-Engineering– Robotics building, and our Visual and Performing Arts & Academics facility. In the past few years, we have made all classrooms climate–controlled and greened our campus through the addition of solar technology, which is projected to save millions in energy costs over the years.
We have used the public’s money wisely. The Master Plan’s purposeful and thoughtful approach to campus improvements has allowed us to create and maximize other opportunities for funding. We have leveraged the $102.5 million in voter-approved bonds (Measure G in 2014 and Measure U in 2016) with $28 million in matching state grant funds, all while staying on schedule and within budget. To keep the project moving on time and to minimize cost increases from construction delays, the District obtained a short term loan in 2019 to cover construction costs while matching state grants were being processed. The two-year low–cost loan was paid off in accordance with the Board’s plans and expectations in June, 2021.
Through the vision and leadership of the Board of Trustees, SBHSD developed a facilities master plan that fosters equity and offers myriad learning opportunities for students. However, we are approaching the limits of our capacity at SBHS to accommodate enrollment growth. Our community needs and deserves a second high school to expand our ability to deliver excellent programs as our community continues to grow. The District is working in partnership with the City of Hollister and County of San Benito to ensure that new development pays its share of the cost of the second high school. Our goal is to replicate and expand the educational experience of today’s students to the student body of tomorrow.
Quality facilities enable quality learning and teaching to occur. Our students have blossomed in the modern, educationally focused campus our community has helped create. For three years in a row, San Benito High School has been ranked by U.S. News & World Report as a “Best High School”, using measures of how well schools serve students from various social and economic backgrounds.
This is on top of recognitions in recent years as an Honor Roll School by the Educational Results Partnership, designation as an Advanced Placement District Honor Roll School in 2020, a full six-year accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), and recognition by the Special Olympics as a Unified Champion School for four years in a row.
Throughout the challenges of the pandemic, we maintained robust educational offerings, including two graduation pathways — one leading to a four–year college path and another focusing on career technical education, training students for opportunities in a variety of labor markets. We prepared and implemented a 1-to–1 technology plan that provides Chromebooks to every student and wireless access to those who need it. SBHS has maintained rich and robust course offerings with more than 60 electives; a combined 35 Advanced Placement, honors or advanced classes; 13 career pathways; nine industry sectors and both University and CTE (Career Technical Education) graduation pathways.
Our ongoing investment in educational facilities and technology honors the faith and trust our community has shown for more than a century. With campus modernization plans close to completion, San Benito High School District is focusing in earnest on the development of a second high school campus in direct response to the recent, rapid-fire growth of residential communities in San Benito County. Together, we can expand our ability to deliver a quality educational experience to even more students as our community grows. We appreciate the community being our partner along this journey, which is a constant reminder that every day is a great day to be a Baler!
With deep appreciation,
Shawn Tennenbaum, Ed.D. Superintendent
John Corrigan, SBHSD President