AUSTIN, Texas—The University of Texas at Austin will host receptions and information meetings from 6-8 p.m., March 18 and April 10 for East Austin parents interested in enrolling their children in the new University of Texas Elementary Charter School that is scheduled to open in August 2003.
The events, to be held in the Conley-Guerrero Activity Center, 808 Nile St., are to better acquaint parents with the new school and the application process to be implemented.
“The objective of the University of Texas Elementary Charter School is to provide exemplary education opportunities for a group of students who live in the inner city,” said Ed Sharpe, vice chancellor for educational alignment at the University of Texas System. “Our goal is to have an elementary school which can serve as a model for other schools.”
Sheldon Ekland-Olson, executive vice president and provost at The University of Texas at Austin, expressed enthusiasm about the program.
“We look forward to developing not only the educational opportunities and programs the charter school itself affords, but also the many ways in which this endeavor can build on and expand even further the links the university has with the Austin Independent School District,” said Ekland-Olson.
Manuel J. Justiz, dean of the university’s College of Education, envisioned several benefits from the program.
“We are excited about how this charter school could benefit students and the possibilities of this school as a professional development site for enhancing the preparation of teachers, principals and other school personnel,” Justiz said. “This charter school will provide an unusual opportunity for the College of Education to determine what works in improving student performances and to share these findings with schools across the state of Texas.”
The community awareness and student enrollment effort is led by Dr. Robert Galvan, assistant vice president for the Office of School Relations at The University of Texas at Austin.
The charter school will serve pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and first-grade students during its first year of operation. Second grade will be added the following year, with another grade added each year until the school includes grades pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. This fall, the school is projected to have 18 to 20 students in each pre-kindergarten section and 20 to 22 students per section in kindergarten and first grade. The school is expected to open with about 120 students.
The following innovative features are expected to be essential parts of the school:
- A longer school day and year (30 minutes per day and one extra week per year).
- Required after-school and summer programs for students who do not achieve benchmarks.
- Evidence of continuous curriculum improvement through research-guided instructional practices.
- Ongoing professional development for teachers grounded in research-based instructional practices.
- The development and implementation of a model Family Literacy Program.
- A contract with the charter school families that spells out expected conduct and dress code.
- In addition, the University of Texas Elementary Charter School will provide a clinical setting for the training of pre-service teachers at The University of Texas at Austin, and curriculum and instructional support by the College of Education faculty from The University of Texas at Austin.
The school will operate as an open-enrollment charter school campus and will not discriminate in any manner on the basis of sex, national origin, ethnicity, religion, disability, or academic, artistic or athletic ability. The charter school will serve students living in the area east of Interstate 35, south of U.S. Highway 290, west of U.S. Highway 183 and north of State Highway 71. The school will eventually serve 300 students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade.
At the information meetings, parents will have the opportunity to complete a general information sheet and student names will be placed in the applicant pool. The admissions process for the charter school is prescribed by state law. If more students apply for a grade level than there is capacity, a lottery will be held on April 28 to determine which students are admitted to that grade. Those individuals not selected will be placed on a waiting list. If fewer students apply for a grade than there is capacity, all applicants for the grade will be admitted on April 28 and recruitment for additional students will continue.
The charter school is in the process of appointing an advisory council composed of representative members of the community to advise the school administration and support school activities.
The charter school will serve a diverse population of elementary students in East Austin. It will establish a young children’s reading program grounded in the scientific research conducted by the Texas Center for Reading and Language Arts. The school also will adopt a math instructional program based on the groundbreaking study of the National Center for Educational Accountability to identify characteristics of math programs in high-performing schools serving disadvantaged students until scientifically based research on math instruction becomes available.
For more information about the upcoming University of Texas Elementary Charter School receptions and informational meetings, please contact the Office of School Relations at 512-475-6061 or 475-6064.
For more information contact: Dr. Robert Galvan, Office of School Relations, 512-475-6064, or Robert D. Meckel, Office of Public Affairs, 512-475-7847.