Community outreach program may be at risk as city expands

By: 

News Reporter

The San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District board held an executive session during the Jan. 26 meeting to discuss the possibility of selling 2.5 acres of land the current administration building sits on.

The property will be surveyed and appraised to better understand the land’s value. A decision will be made at a later meeting. No one has determined what will happen to Centro Cultural Hispano de San Marcos (El Centro), a non-profit organization currently leasing the building adjacent to the SMCISD administration building.

El Centro is a “community beacon for the preservation, development, promotion and celebration of the Hispanic arts, culture, heritage and values,” according to the organization’s website.

Miguel Guajardo, associate professor in Texas State’s education and community leadership program, represented El Centro during the public comment portion of the SMCISD meeting.

Discussing the possibility of selling the 2.5 acres in a public forum can greatly benefit the community, Guajardo said.

“If (school board members) hold off on a decision, we can engage in a public conversation on what is the best interest of the community at large,” Guajardo said. “We are ready to give any input needed.”

Guajardo told the school board El Centro would like to be considered and even possibly asked for advice on a final decision about what to do with the land.

“We have former school board members, Centro founders, students, teachers, state administrators and principals advocating for our future,” Guajardo said. “We want to be partners in the process. That is our commitment to SMCISD and to the public.”

He urged the board members to realize how much the decision can affect the youth of the community.

“Our children need to go to El Centro to learn about San Marcos,” Guajardo said. “Brick and mortar may build buildings, but it is the life, the stories, the laughter and the playing of children that brings a building to life.”

Karen Griffith, SMCISD assistant superintendent, said the concerns some citizens had about El Centro are understandable. She thinks the school board will do what is best for the public.

Selling the property to facilitate a growing community or expanding or renovating the current administration building could be good decisions, Griffith said.

“Primarily, the possibility to sell has to do with the condition of (the administrative building) as well as the future of the district,” Griffith said. “We have had some issues with the building including a cracked foundation that will have financial cost.”

The goal of the appraisal and survey is not to immediately sell the property, she said. The appraisal and survey will help collect all the necessary information to make the best decision.

El Centro and the San Marcos community will be considered when the board decides, Griffith said.

Ofelia Vasquez-Philo, president emeritus of El Centro, did not want to speculate about the possibility of the land being sold because the school board has yet to make anything public.

“We don’t know what is going to happen, but we are definitely still open during our regular business hours,” Vasquez-Philo said.

Ensuring El Centro continues offering its services to the community is Vasquez-Philo’s top priority as president.

“We have piano lessons, children’s tutoring, baile folklorico (traditional Mexican dance) and a beautiful art exhibit for anyone to come experience,” Vasquez-Philo said.