IDEA Allan starts year with 940 students, hundreds on waiting list

AUSTIN (KXAN) — They parted ways with the Austin Independent School District a couple of school years ago, but the breakup is not slowing down IDEA Allan.

GOING IN-DEPTH //
More students enrolling in charter schools

When IDEA and AISD split, Tackett said two-thirds of their 500 students stayed with IDEA the following school year. That means AISD lost state funding for those students. On average, the district receives $1,769 per student each year from the state.

IDEA provided the following data to KXAN about their current students:

  • 757 live in the Austin ISD zone
  • 94 live in the Del Valle ISD zone
  • 115 come from other area districts

The public charter school that now operates independently started classes two weeks before most Central Texas campuses. They opened their doors with 900 students this school year, 300 more than last year. When they opened under AISD in the fall of 2012, they had 500 students with plans to expand.

The school has even outgrown their temporary spot in South Austin on Foremost Drive. All students were there under one roof last year, but this year it is home to kindergarten through fourth grade.

“When IDEA came to Austin we made a promise of college for all,” said Larkin Tackett, IDEA Public School’s Executive Director for the Austin Region.

The focus has not changed, and more and more families are vying for the limited amount of space. According to Tackett, 1,500 students applied for 300 new spots this school year.

Matthew Rodridguez was one of the lucky ones who got in through a random lottery. The second grader, who is a year behind when it comes to reading, spent the last three years at AISD’s Blazier Elementary.

“My jaw is to the floor right now just thinking of how he was focused in the classroom,” said Rodriguez’s mother, who sat in on a reading lesson Monday.

Her older son, Ethan, is a sixth grader at IDEA Allan. His classes are held in portable rooms located in the parking lot of IDEA’s future permanent site near Riverside and Montopolis Drives. The goal is to be out of the portables after Christmas break where all students will once again be housed under one roof. The 90,000 square-foot facility can hold up to 1,300 students.

Several portable classrooms are set up in the parking lot of the future permanent home to IDEA Allan. (Erin Cargile/KXAN)
Several portable classrooms are set up in the parking lot of the future permanent home to IDEA Allan. (Erin Cargile/KXAN)

Eighth grader Jaremy Stone, 13, is one of many students who has stuck with IDEA since the first year they opened under AISD. He should be part of the first graduating class in 2019.

“He was a kid that needed a lot of attention and a lot of help and he got it here,” said his grandmother Kathryn Stone. She is a retired AISD teacher who volunteers at the school. Two more grandkids have enrolled since then.

“We would love to explore opportunities to grow in the future,” Tackett added, “but right now it’s about making sure that every one of our 900 student is on the path to college.”

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