East Central Independent School District will spend the 2019-20 school year planning a new school in the CAST network focused on leadership and management in the retail, hospitality, tourism, and e-commerce industries.
CAST Lead is expected to open in fall 2020 as part of a partnership between East Central ISD and the CAST network of in-district charter schools. Students at CAST Lead will be able to pursue studies in a variety of areas including food and beverage, travel and tourism, lodging, recreation, hotel management, and e-commerce.
The CAST, or Centers for Applied Science and Technology, model is anchored in partnerships between school districts and private-sector companies with the idea of creating a better-prepared workforce. Already, CAST Tech is open in San Antonio ISD, and CAST STEM is open in Southwest ISD. CAST Med is slated to open in SAISD at the beginning of the next school year.
Amanda Holman, ECISD’s director of college and career readiness, told trustees at a mid-May board meeting that the school would open with a class of 120 to 150 students in 2020-21.
Holman told trustees that the district is securing industry partners for CAST Lead. Initial partners include H-E-B, Whataburger, Optiv Security, Freeman, J&S Audio Visual, CE Group, Visit San Antonio, Circa Destination Management, and Phillips Entertainment.
Janet Holliday, president and CEO of the CE Group, emphasized the impact of the tourism industry in San Antonio at a Tuesday press conference announcing the school.
“This innovative new program will provide a critical path and excellent pipeline for both students and future employers based on solid best practices and targeted training,” Holliday said.
The district also is working with Chef Johnny Hernandez, who is behind the La Gloria restaurants and others in the city.
A principal has yet to be chosen to lead the school. ECISD plans to post the job opening and then use industry partners and district members to help select the final candidate.
“The feedback these individuals will provide is essential, as this principal will be responsible for continuing to work closely with business and industry,” Holman said.
The school will be located on the campus of ECISD’s John Glenn Elementary School, located across the street from East Central High School. At Tuesday’s press conference, H-E-B Public Affairs Manager Julie Bedingfield announced a $2 million donation from H-E-B and the Charles Butt Foundation to get the campus ready for students with renovations and the hiring of a principal and planning team.
Trustees and Superintendent Roland Toscano first expressed interest in opening a CAST school at an earlier goal-setting workshop. At the conclusion of the meeting, the board directed Toscano to initiate a partnership with CAST.
“From the hands-on learning that our students will experience inside and outside the classroom to the connection to industry mentors through job shadowing and internship opportunities, we firmly believe that CAST Lead will be a huge benefit to East Central ISD and the San Antonio area,” Toscano said in a written statement.