Posted Date: 02/12/2019
La Joya ISD Sports & Learning Complex Shows Rewarding Results
Innovative projects are continuously happening at La Joya ISD to transform education and to provide educational experiences offered by other educational institutions in the region.
Afterschool programs available to OTHER students in the region, such as Boys and Girls Clubs or YMCA’s which supplement a traditional school district education are non-existent for students belonging to the La Joya Independent School District. Five years ago, this reality pushed the district to deliver an ambitious project that would offer the same educational advantages that other students in the area and state enjoy.
To assist in the expansion of opportunities, in the Spring of 2018, La Joya ISD proudly opened the doors to the La Joya ISD Sports and Learning Complex.
This multi-purpose education facility includes a student resource/homework center, equipped with computers and tutoring, allowing students access to technology and a safe-learning space afterschool and during the summer. It also includes a planetarium to enhance students’ skills in mathematics and science, an aquatic center composed of an indoor competitive pool and an outdoor recreational area, and four tennis courts.
The natatorium, planetarium, resource center, and tennis courts account for more than two thirds of the total cost of the project. Below is a cost breakdown:
• Recreational Area (3 Water slides) $ 2,000,000.00
• Storage Facilities $ 950,000.00
To date, the natatorium has allowed the district to eliminate transportation costs and rental fees of outside facilities for swimming practices and meets. Prior to the construction of the Sports and Learning Complex, La Joya ISD spent a significant amount of money, and students lost instructional time because of the travel time to neighboring districts and city pools. This portion of the project alone, has saved the school district over $100,000 a year in pool rental fees, and in gasoline for school buses, payroll for bus drivers, and other costs associated with transporting students to and from rented facilities.
In the summer of 2018, the Sports and Learning Complex clearly made a positive impact in the community when approximately 400 children attended Learn to Swim Lessons, nearly 30,000 guests visited the recreational aquatic center, and was host to 2 special needs students’ Family Nights with more than 500 participants combined. It is important to note that the water slides and recreational pool areas account for approximately 10% of the total cost – a well worth investment in the La Joya ISD community that generated a positive cash flow of over $72,000 in the first summer alone and provided job experience to many young adults in the community.
This school year, more than 1,600 fourth graders at La Joya ISD also went through the American Red Cross curriculum to learn how to swim – which for much of this community, would not have been possible otherwise, had it not been for the newly acquired natatorium.
“The district’s goal was to teach children to survive in the water and/or build on existing skills,” said Mr. Victor Garza, LJISD Sports & Learning Complex Director. “… and we accomplished just that by teaching 99% of the students to swim! Our 4thgraders not only now know HOW to swim, but they also gained life-long water safety skills – and within the next 8 years, we expect to have every La Joya ISD student to have undergone the Learn to Swim program – a great achievement for our district.” Making La Joya ISD one of only 3 districts in the entire Rio Grande Valley to provide these lifesaving skills to its students.
Currently, the natatorium also serves the community by offering lap swimming and water aerobics classes for a small fee, and by providing Red Cross Life Guard Certification courses for graduates and adults who wish to get certified. Schools too are preparing to showcase their engineering skills in upcoming intra-district aqua robotics competitions – an opportunity not available in other school districts.
The planetarium and learning center aspects of the complexhave taken the educational experience to a whole new level. Here, classroom curriculum is hands-on and allows students the opportunity to be a part of amazing activities like launching rockets and exploring space without ever leaving Earth. In this first year, close to 6,000 visitors have either experienced full dome educational movies, participated in camps and workshops, attended staff development trainings, or joined in study trips, that have exposed students and community members to the state-of-the-art facility in their own backyard.
Fairly new to La Joya ISD, the sport of tennis is one the district aims to develop, which is why the acquisition of tennis courts was fundamental. All 3rdgrade students at La Joya ISD are learning required physical education Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) and will tour the courts to experience the sport in an effort to build an interest as those students grow. Already, free tennis camps, sponsored by the South Texas Tennis Association, have taken place for the youth and adults in the community and courts are open to the public on a daily basis free of charge.
The La Joya ISD community is proud of the LJISD Sports and Learning Complex. This complex has been the vision and courageous action of past and present Board of Trustees along with District administration. Through years of careful budgeting and effective management of resources, the District was able to achieve this vision.
La Joya ISD understands that to lead the future of education, now is the time to provide opportunities for ALL students.