State clears path for three new charter schools to open in Austin

Valor Public Schools (KXAN Photo)
Valor Public Schools (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Friday, the State Board of Education cleared the way for a new charter school operator to open three new campuses in Austin over the next five years.

Valor Public Schools plans to open its first Austin campus by August of 2018, and serve at least 500 students in grades K-9. They hope to open two more campuses by the 2023-2024 school year and serve a total of 4,200 students in grades K-12.

“We’ve chosen these areas as potential school locations because of the strong parent interest for Valor here and because of our desire to serve a demographically diverse student population,” Chief Operating Officer Jesse Bates told KXAN.

Bates also said their teaching model will be a mix of the best classical and contemporary educational practices. Students will tackle classic literature, Latin, advanced courses in science, engineering and math.

“It’s very concerning,” said Austin ISD School Board Trustee Dr. Ted Gordon, who has been keeping up with how many students the district is losing to charters.

He believes the number is roughly 15,000 children, and that many of those families live in his district, east Austin. “They seem to be targeting the areas of town where there are low socioeconomic status folks — black and brown folks,” said Dr. Gordon.

Dr. Gordon says fighting it is not easy, but providing more choice and specialized campuses could help along with better advertising.

“Making sure that the community understands that many of our schools are excellent schools,” said Dr. Gordon.

The last thing he wants is to lose more students and parents like McDaniel.

Big Picture: Charter Schools in Texas

The SBOE approved a total of five new charter operators Friday:

  • Bridgeway Preparatory Academy (Dallas)
  • Etoile Academy Charter School (Houston)
  • Legacy School of Sport Sciences (Houston)
  • Valor Public Schools (Austin)
  • Yellowstone College Preparatory (Houston)

There are now 185 charter school operators in Texas, which have opened 629 charter schools across the state serving more than 247,000 students.

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