Office of Historic Preservation – Preservation Month 2013

May is National Preservation Month, and the Office of Historic Preservation has hosted several educational events to encourage San Antonio to “See, Save, Celebrate!” our city’s historic resources.

The State of Preservation Announcement and Preservation Month Kick-off Event was held on Tuesday, April 30, at Mission Concepcion.

The third annual Amazing Preservation Race took place on Friday, May 10, with nearly 100 people participating in a downtown urban scavenger hunt combining trivia and San Antonio history.   Participants (in teams of four) used clues to find historic destinations throughout downtown while racing to the finish line at La Villita.

The Go! Historic SA Guided Tour of HemisFair Park and La Villita took volunteer tour guides took groups of runners and walkers to historic sites throughout HemisFair Park and La Villita, promoting historic preservation and physical fitness.

Additional upcoming activities for Preservation Month include the Amazing Preservation Race for Kids on Saturday, May 18, in partnership with the San Antonio Conservation Society and Villa Finale.

This free scavenger hunt for elementary age children will teach participants about the history of the King William neighborhood and the basics of architecture and preservation while encouraging physical activity.

The Center City Open House showcasing the Melrose Building at W. Commerce St. will take place on Tuesday, May 28.  Hosted by the Center City Development Office, the Office of Historic Preservation, and the Department for Culture and Creative Development, this unique networking opportunity will showcase an underutilized space and encourage investment in San Antonio’s vacant historic buildings.

These events help to promote the importance of historic preservation and the significance of protecting our pride of place, our sense of community, and the rich history and culture of San Antonio.

Riverwalk Lighting Retrofits

As a part of the Municipal Facility Retrofit Program, the Office of Sustainability is performing lighting upgrades at 15 facilities, 3 downtown parks, and throughout the Riverwalk.

The Office of Sustainability has completed over 200 lighting efficiency projects.  The Aggregate energy savings from all lighting retrofits thus far is $500,000 and 6.6 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year.  This is equivalent to the energy used by 470 homes in San Antonio.

The project initiated in late April and will complete in July.  The Riverwalk work commenced this week and is proceeding as planned.  In total, the project will cost $1 Million and will save the City $170,000 in annual energy and maintenance costs.  The work is funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

3,200 lighting fixtures will be replaced, cutting energy consumption 55% per fixture, while improving the quality of light.  Further, the new fixtures will add to the visual appeal of the Riverwalk in the heart of our City.  This project complements over 200 lighting efficiency projects completed by Office of Sustainability in 2011 and 2012 and is a step toward my ultimate goal of maximizing the energy efficiency of all City facilities.

We will keep you apprised of our efforts under the Municipal Facility Retrofit Program as we continue to make the City of San Antonio a national leader in sustainability.

VITA Program Results

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program, better known as the VITA program, recently wrapped up another successful year of tax preparation.  VITA is an IRS-sponsored program, which provides free tax preparation services to individuals or families earning less than $55,000 in annual household income.

The program has over forty years of success in San Antonio, thanks to the Alamo City Coalition for Economic Self-Sufficiency (ACCESS).

By partnering with more than 30 organizations including the City of San Antonio, the IRS, Catholic Charities, United Way, financial institutions, businesses, and local colleges, ACCESS ensures that our community can take advantage of this important service.

This year, from January 30 through April 15, the coalition managed 24 VITA sites across Bexar County. The City’s Department of Human Services operated 18 of those sites and one mobile team. Due to a nationwide delay from the IRS, VITA sites opened two weeks later than originally scheduled.

The most recent data from IRS reported that local VITA sites served 30,313 taxpayers, returning more than $56 million to the San Antonio economy, including more than $22 million in Earned Income Tax Credits, nearly $10 million in Child Tax Credits, and saving taxpayers an estimated $7.5 million in tax preparation fees. These numbers will rise slightly as last-minute returns and paper returns are processed by the Internal Revenue Service.

Finally, VITA efforts will continue year-round at the Neighborhood Place VITA office in order to complete prior year and amended returns. Taxpayers can call 431-7541 to make an appointment.

Pre-K 4 SA Seeking Public Input on Curriculum

The City of San Antonio is seeking public input on the classroom curriculum being considered for the Pre-K 4 SA program’s Education Centers. Curriculum proposals were sought from vendors from across the country and a team of professionals are reviewing the proposals. Part of the review process includes public input.

Public input matters! Interested members of the public will get an opportunity to see the teachers’ manuals, student books, and materials used in the classroom. The public will be asked to score the curriculum and provide feedback, which will be incorporated in the final curriculum recommendation made to the Pre-K 4 SA Curriculum Review Committee and Board of Directors.

“We firmly believe that hiring effective teachers that have a passion for teaching, along with finding a strong curriculum, will make Pre-K 4 SA an exciting place for our children to learn and grow academically,” said Elaine Mendoza, chair of the Pre-K 4 SA Board.

Public display of the curriculum will take place on Monday, April 15 and Tuesday, April 16, 2013 from 4 – 7 p.m. on the second floor of the Central Library, 600 Soledad, San Antonio, Texas 78205.  Free parking will be made available to participants.

Strong Response to Pre-K 4 SA Hiring Efforts Continues

Early childhood educators continue to be excited about joining the Pre-K 4 SA team and being part of an innovative initiative that strives to improve early childhood education throughout the City.

To date, 2,789 applications have been received from individuals inside and outside the state, including more than 2,200 from San Antonio.  Applications are still being accepted for the master teacher and teacher assistant positions, with initial interviews beginning later this month.

The City is hiring for a variety of positions, including master teachers, teacher assistants, and professional and administrative staff.  Interested applicants may access information about each position and apply at www.sanantonio.gov/hr/jobs/Pre-K4SA_Jobs.asp.

Texas Book Festival – San Antonio Edition

The San Antonio Public Library is proud to announce the first Texas Book Festival – San Antonio Edition, co-hosted by Central Library and the Southwest School of Art on Saturday, April 13, from 10 am to 5 pm.  The festival, presented by the San Antonio Public Library Foundation and the Texas Book Festival, is free and open to the public.

This day of literary happenings will offer book-lovers of every age and interest up-close encounters with over 50 of their favorite Texas and national authors at presentations, panel discussions, and signings.  This is the first Texas Book Festival event held outside of Austin. The Austin festival has been held at the state capitol since its founding by Laura Bush in 1996 and has grown into a large annual event.

The San Antonio Edition will feature special tent areas with a variety of food, cooking demonstrations, exhibitors, musical entertainment, and a bilingual interactive area.

Featured authors at the festival include:

  • Edward Whitacre, author of American Turnaround
  • Former Councilwoman Maria Antonietta  Berriozábal, author of Maria, Daughter of Immigrants
  • Domingo Martinez, author of The Boy Kings of Texas: A Memoir
  • Sandra Cisneros, discussing Have You Seen Marie?
  • And Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, discussing Unflinching Courage:  Pioneering Women Who Shaped Texas

For More Information, visit www.saplf.org or call 225-4728.

San Antonio & Bexar County Head Start Program

The San Antonio & Bexar County Head Start Program is currently accepting applications for 3 and 4 year old children for the 2013-2014 school year.  Eligible children and their families receive free high quality early childhood education and comprehensive support services (dental, health, nutrition, mental health, disability and family support).  Children with disabilities, including severe disabilities, are encouraged to apply.

Parents interested in applying for Head Start Program services for their children should contact the appropriate service provider operating in their surrounding school district and inquire about their respective enrollment schedule.

For more information on Head Start Program services and eligibility criteria, contact the City of San Antonio at (210) 206-5500 or visit Head Start’s website: www.saheadstart.org.

Last year, Head Start enrolled and served 6,789 children and their families at 102 education centers across the city.

Pre-K 4 SA Newsletter

Pre-K 4 SA has published a newsletter with information on the program, board members, and more. Here is a link to the entire newsletter: http://sanantonio.gov/Pre-K4SanAntonio/newsletter.aspx

Employee Survey

The City’s 2013 Employee Survey will be disseminated to all employees this April.  It is the fourth time the City will disseminate a survey to its entire workforce.  In 2007, we successfully conducted the first-ever employee survey across the organization.  As a result, the City now has six years of important employee satisfaction survey data.  The overall purpose of the employee survey is to gather input from employees in order to improve the quality of our work environment and improve communication with City employees.

An independent private firm, ETC Institute, will collect and analyze the results of the survey.  The survey will be completely anonymous for our employees and it will be available in both English and Spanish.

After each survey process is completed, every Department is required to develop Action Plans to improve Communications and Job Satisfaction, based on individual department survey results. The purpose of developing the Plans is to identify needed improvements in the area of communications practices and the department work environment. Department Directors are held accountable and are responsible for implementing the Communications/Job Satisfaction Action-Improvement Plans.

The City now has employee survey data that allows the organization to benchmark Communications/Job Satisfaction improvements and identify areas in need of improvement within departments over a six-year period of time.  The City will continue to ask for input from employees on how to improve communications methods in all departments and job satisfaction by conducting ongoing biennial employee surveys.

Luminaria 2013

Luminaria took place on March 9 and once again it was a great success. This year over 325,000 attendees were entertained by the various art forms and disciplines.   Luminaria included 93 performances and installations utilizing over 600 national, international and local artists.  This year, artistic director Richard Rosen and co directors Melissa Marlow and Kathy Armstrong expanded the event footprint to include Hemisfair Park, the closing of South Alamo (Market to Chavez) with some exciting artists designed vehicles, La Villita and the Arneson River Theatre.

The Riverwalk (Southbank from the Grotto to Arneson) and Houston street were also included allowing for “fringe” art activities to take place and to showcase the city’s “X Marks the Art” program, which is a program designed to enhance the vacant windows along the Houston street vicinity.

Luminaria is a public and private partnership and we would like to thank all the sponsors that help to make these “Night of the Arts” possible, including the City,  Valero, HEB, Rackspace and the 80/20 Foundation, Bank of America, AT&T, SAWS, Bud Light, Coca Cola, TheFund and NuStar Energy.  The City plays a major role contributing by not only making a financial investment but also by allocating Personnel and the team that supported the event includes the Department of Culture and Creative Development, Downtown Operations, Parks & Recreation, Police and Fire.

As we look towards the future of Luminaria, a team of three professionals were hired in partnership with the City and the Luminaria Board to develop a strategic plan for the event.  The team is comprised of artists and arts administrators that have extensive national and international experience with art events and festivals.  They are charged with looking at the governance, the artistic direction and fundraising strategies to ensure the success of this event.