PROGRESO — The Progreso Independent School District held a ribbon cutting ceremony for an over $3 million technology building here on Tuesday morning.
After more than four years of construction, the district will offer a variety of classes for engineering and manufacturing to be taught in the new building, which is located nearby the district’s high school and middle school.
Classes offered there include fields such as welding, Superintendent Sergio Coronado said. Some of the goals are to offer students the ability to enter the workforce after graduation in “industry-based” professions and the training and experience to do so, he said in a speech.
Most of the instructors are from South Texas College, which adds a “special context” in providing training and expertise to the classrooms, he said. Classes began on Aug. 26, district-wide, with this ceremony officially recognizing and showcasing the facility’s amenities.
“We have a very small community and we feel the necessity to train our students in specific career pathways in order for them to compete in high paying jobs…” Coronado said. “We want to open the door to new opportunities for our students.”
Incorporating different grade levels is also a goal of the district with this new building, including students in middle and elementary schools.
“The very special thing about our building is that we’re going to involve every single student in our district,” Coronado said.
The first six week of classes will be theory-based before moving into working with the machinery, Coronado said.
Early College Director Leticia Aguilar said students can obtain a certificate in manufacturing and an associate of applied science degree among the potential offerings along with machining classes from the basic level to the advanced capstone. Students graduating with certificates can earn from $35 to $42 an hour, with the district encouraging alumni to obtain an associate’s degree with STC.
Some students may not feel interested in attending a four-year program at a university, and this offers another path after graduating, she said.
The building is about 28,000 square feet total, with a manufacturing room, two large classrooms that also function as computer labs, and the lobby, according to Sergio Lainez, an architect at Fulcrum Consulting Services.
The area also has fans to circulate and provide ventilation, Lainez said. This provides a way for students in the education system to learn a skill in a convenient matter within the district, rather than having to go elsewhere.
The ceremony celebrated the official opening of the building with band members pepping up the audience of students, board members and administrators.
State Rep. Armando Martinez, D-Weslaco, also attended the ceremony and stressed the importance of local educational institutions expanding.
This new building also provides a dedicated space for students in welding, which was done previously at the high school, board Vice President Juan J. Ramos Jr. said.
The board members also had to take time in evaluating the needs and materials to finish the building along with setbacks regarding its construction.
“It’s for the students… this building is ready (to) get going,” Ramos said.