There are so many exciting developments in the world of charter schools, especially in San Antonio. The mission of this blog is to share that news. But first, let’s talk about the basics of charter schools.
What is a charter school?
A charter school is a public school. It’s authorized directly by the state, not by a local school district. Students can cross district boundaries to attend the charter school of their choice. Charter schools have the freedom to innovate and create new learning models to help students succeed.
Charter schools are tuition-free; they are supported by state tax money. They are also subject to state and federal accountability standards, so charter school students have to take the same standardized tests as other public school students.
All students are welcome, including special needs students and English language learners. There are no entrance exams. They are non-sectarian and non-discriminatory.
- “What’s a charter school anyway?” at Greatschools.org
- “What Are Public Charter Schools?” at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
- “What is a Charter School?” at the Texas Charter Schools Association
- “Charter Schools” at the Texas Education Agency
How do I choose a charter school for my child?
When you are looking for a charter school for your child, here are some questions you need to ask:
- Does the school serve my child’s grade level?
- Is the school located close enough to our house? Can we walk, or do they offer bus service, or will we need to carpool?
- What is the school’s learning model, and will it be a good fit for my child?
- What is the school culture like?
- Does the school have data to prove student success: test scores, student growth, college readiness?
- What foreign languages are offered?
- What physical education and sports programs are available?
- Does the school offer open houses, information sessions, and tours for prospective parents and students to visit and learn more?
Sometimes, more students apply to a charter school than there are seats available. Then, the school will hold a lottery to choose which students to admit. For the 2014-15 school year, most schools will be accepting applications and holding their lotteries in Spring 2014. After the lottery, most schools maintain a waiting list, adding names on a first-come, first-served basis.
What new charter schools are opening in San Antonio?
- BASIS San Antonio is opening in Fall 2013, serving grades 5-8 (growing to 5-12) in the Medical Center area. BASIS plans to open more campuses in San Antonio.
- IDEA South Flores is opening in Fall 2013, serving grades K-2 and 6 (growing to K-12). IDEA Public Schools plans to open many more campuses in San Antonio.
- Eleanor Kolitz Hebrew Language Academy (grades K-8) is becoming a charter school in Fall 2013.
- A Great Hearts campus will open in central San Antonio in Fall 2014, serving grades K-9 (growing to K-12). Great Hearts Texas plans to open several more campuses in San Antonio.
- Anne Frank Inspire Academy (grades 6-8) is opening in Fall 2014 on the Northwest Side.
- KIPP Esperanza Academy will open in Fall 2014 serving kindergarten (growing to grades K-4). KIPP: San Antonio has plans to keep expanding.
Expect more charter school growth in 2014 and beyond. The new organization Choose to Succeed is guiding its partner charter school networks as they grow in San Antonio. More new schools are applying for charters this year, including out-of-state charter management organizations and Texas-grown schools like Montessori For All (applying for grades PK3-3 to open in Fall 2016). Also, a new state law is taking effect that will raise the cap on the number of charters.