IDEA opening new schools as enrollment drops for some public schools

AUSTIN (KXAN) -- Starting next school year parents will have more choices for where they can send their child to learn. IDEA Public Schools will open four new schools for the 2018-2019 school year, IDEA Academy and College Prep Pflugerville and schools by the same names in Kyle. It will be the first ever charter school in Kyle.

Students in kindergarten through second and sixth grade will be admitted for next fall and then each year after that IDEA will add a grade level. Each school has 480 spots open and so far IDEA has received more than 1,200 applications. It is expecting more.

This comes as IDEA Public Schools celebrates its fifth year in Austin Wednesday. However, IDEA schools have also been blamed for the decline in enrollment in local public schools.

IDEA came in 2012 and partnered with AISD for one year at Allen Elementary school before that relationship ended. Since then IDEA has expanded to six schools throughout Austin, and at the same time AISD has seen their enrollment numbers drop. Between the 2015 school year and the current one the district has lost 1,830 students. While district leaders say that's for various reasons, they do acknowledge the popularity of charter schools like IDEA and KIPP have contributed to that.

Leaders at IDEA say it's about offering choice -- especially to families who don't like the school they track into but can't afford to move.

"What we offer at IDEA is a college guarantee, not a promise but a guarantee. Every single one of our graduates is accepted to a college so parents are choosing us because they know that's a guarantee," says Tricia Noyola, Executive Director IDEA Austin.

KXAN reached out to school district leaders in Austin, Pflugerville and Hays county to get their reaction to public charter school taking students out of public schools.

In a written statement Hays CISD wrote, "Competition can be a good thing. It motivates all of us to perform at our best, which benefits children. So long as educational resources are amply provided to all students in Texas, everyone can enjoy success." It went on to say the district is seeing about 600 new students each year and don't expect the first charter school in Kyle to impact their growth.

Austin and Pflugerville did not respond to requests for comment.

Within the next five years IDEA Public Schools hopes to add 20 additional schools.

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