IDEA Enrollment Numbers Fall Short

Charter school sits at 93% capacity

PRIDE of the Eastside's Vincent Tovar (l) with other Allan Elementary supporters
PRIDE of the Eastside's Vincent Tovar (l) with other Allan Elementary supporters (Photo by Jana Birchum)

IDEA Allan, the Austin Independent School District's controversial in-district charter school, has failed to reach its enrollment target for the first year, though the school is still treating its numbers as a success.

In May, district partner IDEA Public Schools announced that it had 675 applications for 600 seats across four grades – 125 each in kindergarten through second grade, and 225 in sixth grade. But on the fifth day of the new school year, only 557 students were registered. The figures are worst in first grade, which is only at 86% of capacity, while second grade leads the pack with 96% of seats filled. But even though the school missed its target, IDEA's Austin Executive Director Larkin Tackett said he is "thrilled that more than 550 students and families chose IDEA Allan to support them on their path to college."

He notes that it's a dramatic improvement over enrollment on the campus last year when it was still Allan Elementary. Back then, when it was a regular pre-K through fifth elementary, it only had 389 students registered. But those raw numbers mask a pivotal difference: Allan was a neighborhood elementary school, but IDEA Allan is the first component of an in-district charter that will eventually take over Eastside Memorial High School, and has aggressively recruited from across AISD. Tackett told the Chronicle that his office is still compiling numbers on where exactly each student comes from. Consid­er­ing IDEA was sold to the board not as a magnet school, but as a way to further revive the Eastside Memorial attendance zone, those numbers will come under deep scrutiny.

AISD Trustee Sam Guzmán was one of the biggest advocates for IDEA Allan, but has already voiced concerns that its districtwide recruitment policy undermines that core mission. However, he has placed some of the blame for low neighborhood numbers on PRIDE of the Eastside, the newly formed community group that has led the charge against IDEA in East Austin. PRIDE spokesman Vincent Tovar rejected that claim, and countered that AISD and IDEA are trying to blame others for their failed project. While some East Austin residents called for a boycott, IDEA was running TV and radio ads, and buying billboards. Tovar said, "How much money was spent to get 93% capacity? Way more than AISD could spend on any public school." He was also doubtful over the delay in finding out whose kids are being educated at IDEA Allan. He said: "When they seemingly have great numbers, it's in the press. When those numbers are more questionable, they're difficult to obtain."

READ MORE
More IDEA Public Schools
An IDEA Whose Time Has Passed?
An IDEA Whose Time Has Passed?
The AISD board contemplates terminating its contract with IDEA Public Schools

Richard Whittaker, Dec. 7, 2012

IDEA Still Trying To Fill Seats
IDEA Still Trying To Fill Seats
New charter school has lost some of its recruits

Richard Whittaker, July 13, 2012

More IDEA Allan
IDEA's Records Show Kids From Across District
IDEA's Records Show Kids From Across District
Charter school says its fulfilling mission to serve the underserved

Richard Whittaker, Oct. 5, 2012

More by Richard Whittaker
DVDanger: <i>House on Willow Street</i>
DVDanger: House on Willow Street
Kidnapping meets possession, plus more home releases

March 25, 2017

So What Is <i>Trainspotting </i> Anyway?
So What Is Trainspotting Anyway?
Choose life. Choose a sequel. Choose director Danny Boyle.

March 24, 2017

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

IDEA Public Schools, IDEA Allan, Allan Elementary, Austin ISD, Austin Independent School District, Eastside Memorial High School, charter school

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)