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The Los Fresnos Consolidated Independent School District will open the new Resaca Middle School to serve students in the district’s southwestern area — the centerpiece of a $63 million expansion plan approved by voters in May 2021.
Opening day for the newly relocated school, which sits just off FM 511 at Rancho Alto Drive, is Aug. 14, the first day of the 2023-2024 school year for Los Fresnos schools.
The 700 students who attend Resaca Middle School are being moved from the school’s old location in central Los Fresnos, which in turn will become Los Cuates Middle School.
That will allow the original Los Cuates campus, Los Fresnos’ onetime high school built in 1954, to be refurbished into a Career and Technical Education center, where a new agriculture barn is also under construction.
The CTE complex is to open in 2024.
Los Fresnos has three middle schools — the other one is Liberty Memorial — that currently feed one high school that exists on two campuses, Los Fresnos High School and Los Fresnos United.
“So we’re working our way to a second high school, and I don’t think we will go to two high schools until we have the CTE center in place. Once the CTE center is in place about a third of our enrollment will begin their day or end their day at the CTE center and then finish at their respective high schools,” Superintendent Gonzalo Salazar said.
“Years ago we had this vision of having two high schools and having a centrally located CTE center with three middle schools spread strategically throughout the district. It’s 451 square miles we cover,” he said.
“We serve kids from Rio del Sol to FM 1732, Lago Vista over behind Rancho Viejo, over to San Benito zip codes, Arroyo City and then all the way to Bayview … a lot of farm land but also some very densely populated subdivisions in the Brownsville city limits. And then you also have a recent demographic study that showed that we have 18 active subdivisions in Los Fresnos,” Salazar said.
“So we are poised for growth and not just with our facilities, the accommodations we’re making in facilities, but also the learning experience, the variety of learning experience available to kids. It’s amazing. With each graduating class that gets to see what we offer, I always hear from them ‘why didn’t we have that when I was in school,’ so there’s this longing for learning. We are committed to continuous improvement. Every cohort of students seems to have new opportunities,” he said.
Resaca Middle School sits on 23 acres adjacent to Rancho Verde Elementary School. It serves students from Rancho Verde, Olmito and Villareal elementary schools in suburban Brownsville and is built to accommodate 1,200 students.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony to welcome the community is to be held Aug. 3, Salazar said.
The new campus includes an academic building with four wings, cafeteria and band hall, practice and performance gymnasiums and athletics buildings including locker and weight rooms. Practice fields are under construction east of the main instruction and student drop-off areas.
Walking through the campus early one afternoon last week, Salazar pointed out how classrooms, the library, science labs, art rooms and other instructional areas are configured to accommodate modern-day learning.
Gone are rows of desks in front of a blackboard, replaced by movable desks arranged in pods or picnic tables on casters that can be arranged as the teacher chooses facing large interactive screens in science and math classrooms.
“Special needs is a point of pride for us because we serve the needs of all students,” Salazar said a little later. “Our special needs students have access to the same technology as other students. …This classroom is different because it connects to a sensory room. Here kids get to come in and experience different textures… the teacher can teach structure, ‘let’s sit on our dots,’ or they can do active-play learning.”
The old Los Cuates will become the CTE center, Salazar explained.
“The CTE classrooms that were embedded in the high school will become labs that will give an even greater experience to our kids,” he said, adding that students will be able to earn industry-based certifications.
“We have 20 career pathways, and so basically we are tailoring the educational experience to the interests of the student the same way that Starbucks tailors their coffee. …Our mission is to deliver a quality educational experience, and so how we do that is by tailoring the educational experience to the interests and needs of our students depending on the career pathway that they want to follow,” he said.
“Middle school is the on ramp to those secondary experiences but preparing them for the post secondary experience begins at the elementary level. It’s just that the pathway, the on ramps to the pathways, is here at the middle school,” he said.
Other elements of the $63 million bond issue include new all-weather tracks for Liberty Memorial Middle School and Los Fresnos United.
Also, the Los Fresnos CISD Board of Trustees recently approved proposed plans for a Multi-Purpose Fine Arts Center. The plans, submitted by the architecture firm Megamorphosis, include a 1,000-seat theater space for performances and other district events. It will be located on Highway 100 and is scheduled to be completed within 18 months of groundbreaking.