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State Board Approves New San Antonio Charter School

School supplies
Nick Amoscato | Flickr Creative Commons

The state board of education has approved four new charter school operators for the 2019-2020 school year, including one in San Antonio.

Promesa Academy is slated to open in one of the poorest zip codes in the city, 78207.  CEO Ambika Dani said she chose that location because four of the nine elementary schools in the area are failing state standards.

“They rank in the bottom 0.5 to 11th percentile of all elementary schools in the state of Texas,” Dani said. “We’re looking at anywhere between 8 percent to 18 percent of students meeting or mastering standards on their third grade reading STAAR (exam).”

The 78207 zip code is inside the footprint of the San Antonio Independent School District, adjacent to Edgewood ISD.

SAISD is partnering with Relay Graduate School of Education to improve academics at two of the failing 78207 elementary schools: Ogden and Storm.

State board member Marisa Perez-Diaz, who works for Edgewood, gave Dani credit for getting to know the west side community. But Perez-Diaz also said she thought San Antonio was becoming “oversaturated” with charter schools.

“Is there a point where we can look at a moratorium (on new charter school operators)?” she asked at a committee hearing Thursday.

Board member Ruben Cortez was hesitant to approve Promesa’s charter because Dani was a fellow at Building Excellent Schools, an organization that gives administrative training to people who want to found charters.

Cortez said some charter operators affiliated with Building Excellent Schools have performed poorly

Dani said Building Excellent Skills gives training, but it’s the founders who are responsible for their schools, not the fellowship provider.

Promesa will open with kindergarten and first grade next year, with plans to expand to fifth grade.

State law gives the Texas education commissioner the authority to grant charters subject to state board approval.

Commissioner Mike Morath approved four of the 21 applications submitted in December: Promesa, Bloom Academy and Reve Preparatory in Houston and the Elementary School for Education Innovation in Lubbock.

Camille Phillips can be reached at camille@tpr.org or on Twitter @cmpcamille