The City has identified education as one of its most important challenges. We’ve set a variety of goals for improving educational standards and performance, from kindergarten readiness to high school graduation rates and the number of San Antonio adults with college degrees. Achieving these educational goals will prepare our residents to thrive in a variety of occupations and to respond to the changing needs of the 21st century workplace.

The results of our efforts so far have been mixed. High school graduation rates have increased 7% since 2010 and are still trending upwards. But, third grade reading proficiency levels declined 3% over a three-year period leading up to 2014. And despite an enormous citywide push to encourage more students to enroll in 2- and 4- year colleges, we are not graduating enough students to meet the demand in the workplace. Of the nation’s largest cities, San Antonio has one of the lowest percentages of adults with college degrees. That number has indeed slightly increased recently. But since college enrollment has not increased, the higher percentage may be due to new arrivals with degrees coming to San Antonio, rather than more local students completing college degrees.

The City can and should play a significant role in promoting educational performance. The effort to improve educational outcomes can also be used to support other important regional goals, such as encouraging development within priority growth areas. For instance, the City can assist area school districts in reserving land for future school sites in planned regional centers and other future growth areas. And, to drive market demand for housing, we can work with school districts to help promote innovative educational opportunities within these priority growth areas. And we can also support existing schools by investing in their surrounding neighborhoods. Finally, by encouraging cooperative, flexible design of school facilities to ensure maximum use, we can also ensure their potential for adaptive reuse as ongoing neighborhood resources.

To enhance educational performance on a community-wide basis, the City can provide land, facilities and entitlements that can be used to establish schools to attract a broad spectrum of families with children. We can collaborate with and provide support to underperforming independent school districts, including effort-funding increases and support for early childhood education programs.