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Stewart Elementary on more stable footing

August 21, 2018

The investment made by the San Antonio Independent School District to turn around Stewart Elementary has paid off.

The beleaguered school, which had faced being closed by the state next year if it did not show academic improvement, earned a B in the latest accountability ratings released by the Texas Education Agency.

Nonetheless, the school will continue to operate under the direction of Democracy Prep Public Schools, a New York-based charter network brought in for the new school year. And that remains the correct move.

The school had failed to meet state accountability standards five years in a row and faced intervention by the state if its scores did not show dramatic improvement. Under a law that went into effect this year, Education Commissioner Mike Morath must order a school closed or appoint a board of managers to take over the entire school district after a school fails to make a turn around.

SAISD poured resources into the beleaguered school to raise its scores, but at the same time it decided to find an alternate plan to save the school from closure. The decision to bring in a charter school network has not been embraced by everyone.

There were no guarantees the schools was going to show the necessary improvement mandated by the state. As recently as a few weeks ago, school administrators were unsure how the final grading was going to be done. TEA tweaked the rules up until the last minute.

The decision by the school board and administrators to bring in a charter to take over the troubled school allowed them to avoid the risk of a shutdown and takeover, and continue to operate as a neighborhood school.

Bringing in a charter is not ideal, but some gambles are worth taking. And this was, and is, one of them.

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