Community celebration ends annual books and arts festival

The sound of laughter and music mixed with the smell of frying food outside city hall here Friday evening as the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley’s Festival of International Books and Arts closed out another year with 2020’s Community FESTIBA Festival. The festival tied together two weeks’ worth of panels and performances with an evening of musical acts, book signings, art displays and award presentations. Dahlia Guerra, UTRGV assistant vice president for public art & special projects, called this year’s FESTIBA a success. Read the full story at

A&M aims to add seven degree plans at McAllen center

Texas A&M University’s Higher Education Center in north McAllen hopes to almost triple the amount of degree plans it currently offers in the next two years, according to Assistant Provost Adolfo Santos. According to Santos, the university is planning on adding degree programs in agricultural economics, construction science, human resource development, international studies, maritime business administration, STEM education and university studies in arts and sciences. “Currently we’ve got four degree options, and we’re about to increase that by seven, so hopefully we’ll be at 11,” he said. Read the full story at

McAllen schools offering tuition free pre-K

McAllen schools announced a tuition-free pre-kinder opportunity in a statement Monday. Under the Universal Pre-K system, 198 students can be included for free on a first come, first serve basis, the release stated. The program will be offered at Castañeda, Rayburn, Hendricks, Bonham and Fields Elementary schools. “A full-day Pre-Kindergarten Program is vitally important in getting a child’s education started on the right path,” the statement read. “That’s why McAllen ISD is offering an opportunity to admit nearly 200 additional Pre-Kinder students on a tuition-free basis for next school year.” Read the full story at

Federal funds to aid RGV schools affected by floods

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced last week that it would be providing over $25 million in federal assistance to the Texas Education Agency in order to aid recovery efforts in areas affected by flooding in the Rio Grande Valley, Southeast Texas and Houston. According to a release from the agency, the $25,445,162 in funds were awarded under the department’s Immediate Aid to Restart School Operations program and are intended to help schools resume operations after a natural disaster. Read the full story at

McAllen schools awarded federal funds for school violence prevention

Congressman Vicente Gonzalez announced Tuesday schools across the 15th District of Texas will receive a total of $1,493,168 federal funds, thanks to the Students, Teachers, and Officers Preventing (STOP) School Violence Act. Funded in order to improve school security so students and teachers have access to tools to recognize, quickly respond, and prevent acts of violence, STOP was co-sponsored by Gonzalez in 2018.  “We need to do all that we can to give students and teachers the resources they need to identify potentially harmful scenarios and prevent school violence,” Gonzalez said in a press release.  Visit for the full story.

Librarian awarded $1,000 prize, plans to use it for books

PHARR — A local elementary school librarian will be awarded a monetary prize from H-E-B. Linda Hinojosa, a librarian at Berta Palacios Elementary, will be awarded $1,000 through the H-E-B Read 3 program. The money will be used to purchase books for students during campus literacy events. “I was surprised when I received the news on our most recent prize, but I was also extremely happy,” Hinojosa said in a news release. “I would like to thank our PSJA Library Director Mrs. Nora Galvan for the support she has shown me. She has always encouraged librarians to apply for grants that will benefit our students.” Read the full story at

Weslaco elementary school receives health grant

WESLACO — National nonprofit organization Project Fit America has chosen Cleckler-Heald Elementary in Weslaco to receive a grant to encourage a more physical lifestyle...

Sam Houston Elementary’s fictional town comes to life for students

For a fictional town, Houstonville was awfully busy Wednesday morning. Held at Sam Houston Elementary in South McAllen, Houstonville is part of McAllen ISD’s Minitropolis program, which partners elementary schools with local businesses to provide students realistic financial and civic experience in a creative setting. Minitropolis is now in its 23rd year at Sam Houston and is held in six McAllen ISD schools. For about an hour a week for the rest of the school year, classrooms in Houston Elementary will put up signs and stock their shelves with wares. Students will work as store clerks and postal carriers and bank tellers, city councilmembers and newspaper hawkers and police officers, exchanging faux currency for stuff donated by local businesses and parents. Read the full story at

UTRGV announces large-scale free tuition program

Beginning in the fall of 2020, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley will cover tuition and mandatory fees for qualifying students with a family income of $75,000 or less through the Tuition Advantage grant. UTRGV President Guy Bailey made the official announcement in the crowded lobby of the Performing Arts Center on Monday morning. Read more on the

UTRGV announces free tuition for qualifying students with $75,000 and under household income

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley announced Monday that it will be offering free tuition to certain students with annual household incomes of $75,000 and under, beginning for the 2020 academic year. UTRGV President Guy Bailey made the announcement during a news conference inside the Edinburg campus' Performing Arts Center lobby Monday morning, calling the new tuition program the "most expansive" in the state, and will be available to qualifying incoming, returning and transfer students. The impact of which, Bailey said, is expected to lead to more than half of the university's students paying no tuition by next year. Read the full story on