Hidalgo County, the home of La Joya ISD, is home to the state’s highest level of children living below the poverty line, at 47 percent. Over 93 percent of those students are considered “economically disadvantaged” by the state, thus eligible for free or reduced school lunches. The average ACT score in the district is 16. While teachers make around $53,000, La Joya ISD Superintendent Alda Benavides makes over $315,000. Her salary was raised by 5 percent in February by the La Joya School Board of Trustees.

Now, that same school district is home to the first school district-owned waterpark in the state.

The district was already working to build a brand-new natatorium along with the waterpark, which will be capable of hosting swimming and diving events. Now, they have a 90,000 square foot waterpark to complement that.

At the sports complex’s opening ceremony, Benavides talked about how the waterpark would “provide a lot of opportunities for kids.”

The boondoggle construction project included various different components, including the natatorium and waterpark, tennis courts, a planetarium, additions to an already existing golf course, and a learning center.

The project was initially supposed to cost around $16 million, and be completed sometime in 2015. Four million dollars and three years later, Benavides’ brain child was completed.

The costly project’s completion comes at a time of strife and protest amongst public school teachers across the nation, who are complaining of low wages and lack of funding for essential aspects of children’s learning experience. Teachers and parents in La Joya ISD, and across the state, ought to wonder long and hard if a 90,000 square foot waterpark is an essential to a child’s learning experience, and in what way it provides “opportunities” for kids, as Superintendent Benavides claims.

Austin Goss

Austin Goss is the Capitol Correspondent for Empower Texans and Texas Scorecard. Hailing from Louisville, Kentucky, Austin is a Christian, soldier in the United States Army Reserves, and a student at the University of Texas at Austin. Follow Austin on Twitter @AG_Legacy


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