Community Column: PAC to break ground on new SETC

February 3, 2021

Dr. Robert Garza

Since Palo Alto College was established more than 35 years ago, we have held true to our core value of providing educational access to all members of the community. Through this commitment, we have collaborated with school districts and local businesses to create partnerships that directly support our students and their families.

One such partnership is with Southside Independent School District, which has made land available in support of a new Southside Education and Training Center (SETC). The project is part of a multi-million-dollar bond passed by voters in 2017, and whereas the design and programming of the facility will help bridge the educational gap for those residing within underserved, rural sectors of Bexar County.

As part of our overall commitment to data-informed decision making, we conducted listening sessions in the Summer of 2019 with local residents. We learned that the surrounding community wanted a place where they could have internet and computer access, as well as training in high-demand occupations and a place to come together to learn and share ideas. All of the feedback we gathered went into the development and design of the center.

Upon completion, SETC will offer programs such as Adult Basic Education and Literacy, including High School Equivalency and English as a Second Language, and Allied Health and Nursing. The structure will also feature a bibliotech, testing assessment center, computer labs, skills and simulation labs, general classrooms, workspaces, a conference room, and a multipurpose space for small and large gatherings.

On Feb. 10, a small group of community partners and leaders from our educational institutions will gather for a ceremonial groundbreaking event at the site for the new facility off of 281 and Losoya Martinez Rd. Because of the ongoing concerns with COVID-19, this event will be limited to invited guests only. However, more information about this project and future construction projects can be located online at

During these unprecedented times, it is encouraging that our students continue to believe in the pursuit of higher education for a brighter future for themselves and their families. It is truly an honor to serve the community, and we are so thankful for our partners who share the same vision for a better and brighter future for all sectors of our beloved city and county.

This column by Dr. Robert Garza, president of Palo Alto College, was originally published in the San Antonio Express-News' Southside Reporter and