Two Valley districts, county program finalists in H-E-B education awards

McALLEN — Two Rio Grande Valley school districts are among the finalists for the 17th annual H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards, the Texas-based grocery chain announced Friday.

The school districts of McAllen and Harlingen will be competing alongside three other districts from across the state in the large school district category, and Harlingen’s board of trustees will also compete for the public school board category.

“H-E-B is a phenomenal organization that provides many, many resources to public education, so for a world-class organization like H-E-B to recognize us as state finalists is an honor,” said McAllen school district Superintendent Jose Gonzalez. “We have great teachers at McAllen ISD, and provide world-class instruction to our students and we have students that perform very well academically.”

Gonzalez said the district will host a visit from H-E-B officials in the upcoming months and plan to showcase the best that the district has to offer. Part of what he thinks could have contributed to the accolade is that the district was recently recognized by the Texas Education Agency with the Post-Secondary Readiness distinction, which he said shows they are doing all they can to provide this high-level instruction to students.

The Hidalgo County Head Start Program was also named one of five finalists for the Early Childhood Education Facilities division, receiving $5,000 for the distinction.

As finalists, the two school districts will receive a $5,000 award, the winner will take $100,000, while the winning school board and early childhood facility will receive $25,000 each. H-E-B expects to announce all the winners in February and March during surprise visits to schools.

Since the creation of the awards, H-E-B has bestowed $8.5 million to public school districts, also recognizing outstanding educators.