Surveys reveal student opinions on VMT courses

Alondra Reyes

Surveys collected by The Magnet Tribune determined the student body’s opinion on the courses offered at VMT.

Out of 253 Vidal M. Trevino Magnet students surveyed, 24 are unsatisfied with the courses offered currently and by the looks of their opinion on other courses, they want more.

The collected submissions revealed students want more, but the decision of doing so depends on much more. 

“VMT is very innovative and we’re always trying to find new courses,” Counselor Ana Laura Guajardo explained. “It depends on the needs of the community and of the students.” 

As VMT continues to evolve and needs change within the school, administration can always look at changing, adding and taking away different things, Guajardo said.

“Right now we’re already looking to add more dual enrollment college classes,” Guajardo said.

The interest from students is essential when adding a course.

“Usually it starts with a survey,” Guajardo stated. “It starts with an interest and that’s where numbers come in.”

Finding space in the school’s budget is a complex task. Adding teachers to a budget is a different situation, Guajardo said.

“Every spring semester, before spring break usually, the district calls for something called ‘the needs assessment,’ (where) the teachers get a chance to say what their necessities are for their students,” Guajardo said. “As for classrooms, we only have one classroom that is being used as a storage unit because we don’t have one on campus. What class would be used? Budget is already tight, where are you going to take it away from to add to something else?” 

Budgets are rarely increased unless the Texas government has extra funding available, Guajardo said.

“The (salary) of whoever would be the teacher we’d hire comes from Communities in School, a nonprofit organization, and the other half from the VMT budget,” Guajardo said. “Especially now with the pandemic we have to pay for disinfection and sanitation supplies- one thing leads to another.”

The options listed as hypothetical additions included fashion/clothing design, architecture, culture and languages. Fifty-four students stated they want fashion and clothing design. 

“That would be awesome if kids could take fashion,” Guajardo said. “But it’s much more than ‘it’s cool let’s do it.’”

The possibility of new courses is not off the table, just the undertaking of doing so means the start of an extended operation. 

The commissioner of education may approve a course within the foundation if the proposed course is academically helpful and addresses documented student needs. 

According to the Texas Education Association website, “the Board of Education may approve any course that does not fall in any subject areas listed in the foundation and enrichment curricula.’’ 

With the approval of the local board of trustees, school districts and charter schools may offer any state-approved innovative course for state elective credit only. Course descriptions include knowledge and skill for the course, suggested activities, resources, materials, and approved educator certification. 

The TEA website states “a district does not need to apply for an approval to an innovate course.’’  

If a district chooses not to renew the application, TEA will open the application process to other interested districts. Courses can only be renewed by the districts, according to TEA.

Student reporters Neela Dominguez, Nancy Garcia and Jacob Rodriguez contributed to this story.