Edcouch-Elsa ISD may renovate old middle school into fine arts academy

EDCOUCH — The Edcouch-Elsa Independent School District may spend up to $350,000 for the creation of a fine arts academy that would incorporate various related programs in addition to a curriculum that meets state standards.

Dubbed the Ybarra Fine Arts Academy Renovation Project, the academy has been in the works since January and is slated to open for the 2019-20 academic year, Superintendent Ronaldo Cavazos said. The academy will renovate the David Ybarra Middle School, gearing the campus toward fine arts such as dance and music. The district entered into a “hold harmless agreement” with Enriquez Construction for the project this month.

The first year of its opening will be for sixth graders with a target of about 350 students, and will eventually be open to seventh and eighth graders, the superintendent said.

The contractor was chosen through a bid to renovate the David Ybarra Middle School, which will be renamed the Ybarra Fine Arts Academy.

“It just needs a good cleaning and needs some minor repair work…” he said. “Really what we wanted the contractor to do is to help us paint the building and do some aesthetic work on the outside of the building.”

Estudiantina, folklorico and other culturally and artistic programs will be part of the academy’s focus.

The purpose of renovating the facility is to place students in a building and environment, with more classrooms and space, dedicated toward these programs, he said.

“We just kind of felt that, we just needed to expand our programs to serve the needs, our children, our kids in middle school,” Cavazos said. “They have the desire…”

Board President Robert Schmalzried said the academy will be open to all students.

“It’s something that we are really looking at to excel more. We have nationally ranked programs here at the school district, we just want to make it to where they can get started earlier,” Schmalzried added.

The district currently has a science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM academy and the upcoming renovated building would add another path for students, he said.

This is an option for them to come to a middle school where “they can excel in their talents,” Schmalzried said. The district already has a folklorico program from pre-K to sixth grade, and can continue that trajectory, he noted.

“We just wanted to have more programs for the kids and expose them to different options and different opportunities,” Cavazos said.