On Dec. 17, the Austin ISD board of trustees voted to terminate the contract signed in 2011 with IDEA Public Schools to establish a charter school at Allan Elementary School in East Austin. In response, IDEA plans to keep operating in Austin independently, founder and CEO Tom Torkelson announced at a news conference Dec. 18.
“My promise to our parents is that IDEA Public Schools will stick with them because they have stuck by us, and that means an IDEA public school opening up next year in September that will continue to provide a high-quality college prep education to all of our students,” Torkelson said.
The school would be an independent public charter school similar to 26 other campuses IDEA operates in Texas, and the organization would work to secure funding as it has for those schools, Torkelson said.
Speaking on behalf of parents of IDEA Allan students, PTA President Brandee Davis said the school's staff has been supportive during the past two weeks, which were “filled with uncertainty.”
The AISD board planned to vote Dec. 17 on an amendment to the district's contract with IDEA that would have allowed IDEA Allan to continue operating but would have delayed IDEA's expansion into Eastside Memorial High School. The board voted 5-4 against that amendment and then voted 5-4 to terminate the contract.
“My daughter is one of the 544 students here, and as parents, we are 100 percent committed to following IDEA wherever they may go,” Davis said.
IDEA Public Schools plans to announce more details about its planned school in January or February, including more information about where it will be located. Torkelson said IDEA will aim to provide a campus that is convenient for the school's current students.
“We're really looking forward to the option to continue to grow and expand here in the community of Austin, and to meet the pent-up demand for great schools that we know all parents have.”