District to decide whether to move forward with in-district charter to help with struggling schools

Posted at 2:42 PM, Apr 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-24 21:31:39-04

The Waco ISD school board will decide on Thursday if it will move forward with its plans to apply for an in-district charter partnership with a nonprofit group for six of its campuses.

Under the proposal, Prosper Waco would make decisions ranging from staffing to curriculum for four elementary schools and two middle schools in the district. The group would still collaborate with the district but it will ultimately have the final say on matters related to those campuses.

The agreement would give the five campuses at risk of closing if they don't do well in standardized tests this spring,  a two-year period to improve.

“While we believe all of those campuses can meet standards this year. That’s by no means easy work and if those campuses needs a little bit more time, we want to make sure they have it," Waco ISD Director of Communications Kyle DeBeer said.

The campuses included in the agreement would be Alta Vista Elementary, Brook Avenue Elementary, G.W. Carver Middle School, J.H. Hines Elementary and Indian Spring Middle School. Those struggling schools have been listed as improvement required for five years or more. South Waco Elementary, which is part of the proposal, is not at risk of closing but it was included due to its proximity to Alta Vista.

DeBeer also said Prosper Waco can help students facing challenges outside the classroom, including  homelessness and lack of access to healthcare or transportation.

"We know too many of our students face obstacles outside of the classroom that inhibit their ability to learn in the classroom. Prosper Waco can bring the expertise to help remove some of those obstacles," DeBeer said.

The partnership would also allow the six schools to receive $3.5 million additional funds from the state that DeBeer said would be used for expanding pre-kindergarten program to three year olds and increasing an incentive pay program for teachers. 

G.W. Carver Middle School Principal Alonzo McAdoo said he believes the additional pay could bring in more qualified teachers.

"Do I believe that it will attract teachers that can actually elevate our students even more? Definitely. I do see that happening. One of the incentive programs that we have in place afforded me a teacher to come this school and he has produced outstanding results," McAdoo said.

McAdoo who is in support of the partnership is focusing on helping the students succeed on their tests this spring.

“Not only have my teachers and staff been working hard but our students are embracing it. Our community is embracing it. All I’m hearing from community members is what can we do," McAdoo said. 

He believes his students will not be the only ones successful. 

"Every single school will meet standards. It will be shocking to world but not to us because we put forth that effort," McAdoo said.

On Thursday, the Waco ISD School Board will decide whether to move forward with the application for the in-district partnership. If they approve it, they will submit their application to the Texas Education Agency by Monday.

TEA will give the district a preliminary decision by May 21st. However, the district won't receive its accountability rating for its campuses until August.

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