Mercedes Serves As Hub For Premier Regional School District
The South Texas Independent School District is expanding its presence in Mercedes with the opening of a new administrative and training center along Expressway 77/83 near the Rio Grande Valley Premium Outlets.
The new facility once housed a furniture and appliance store and will serve as the administration headquarters for the Mercedes-based school district that has six campuses located throughout the Rio Grande Valley. The new STISD hub is expected to be completed by year’s end, and its location in Mercedes is ideal for reaching its schools in the region.
The regional school district has a five decade presence in Mercedes and its schools have been recognized nationally many times over the years for academic excellence. The district and its magnet schools include programs in medical and health care studies, engineering, international studies and technology.
The expansion of its facilities in Mercedes points to the continued connection between the city and the school district.
“We value the support we’ve always gotten from Mercedes,’’ said Amanda Odom, the administrator for public relations and marketing. “This is where we started. We’ve grown from here.’’
In Mercedes, the school district has its original flagship school – South Texas High School for Health Professions – and its Science Academy. A new addition to the Mercedes campus is the Congressman Ruben Hinojosa Innovation Lab that has students working on a number of computer and technology-related projects. A library and gymnasium are also located on the Mercedes campus.
There are 4200 students on the campuses of the South Texas school district, with 1400 of those students in Mercedes. The school district has come a long way from its original Med High Health Professions that opened in Mercedes in 1984 in temporary buildings to facilities and campuses throughout the Valley.
“We’ve been able to see how the school has changed over the years, facilities-wise, and how it’s grown,’’ said Gabe Valdez, an alumnus of STISD who is now an instructor at the Mercedes campus. “What’s offered now is a lot more than we had back then.’’
The institution in 2015 made a major addition to its system with the opening of a new Medical Academy in Olmito to better serve the Cameron County area. The new school is one of four high schools in the systems in addition to two middle schools. The network of magnet schools predates the charter schools that have emerged throughout the Valley and its specialized focus on academic disciplines makes it unique among area schools.
“It’s a good thing that parents and students have choice,’’ Odom said. “There’s a lot of choices for students today.’’
On the innovative edge of these school choices is STISD and its administrative offices and campuses in Mercedes that serve as the heart of a public school system that spans the Valley from Edinburg to Olmito.
- Ricardo D. Cavazos