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SAISD nonprofit partnerships will improve schools

March 30, 2019

The San Antonio Independent School District board meeting Monday was exciting for our principals, teachers and parents as we outlined plans for 18 of our schools to partner with nonprofit organizations they had selected — each with a particular expertise to help further the school’s mission.

While SAISD has had in-district charters for 20 years, these schools represent the next generation; along with greater autonomy and flexibility in implementing their program, they also have a formal agreement for ongoing collaboration and counsel from their nonprofit partner.

For example, Carroll and Tynan Early Childhood Centers is partnering with the HighScope Educational Research Foundation, a nationally recognized expert in early childhood research and curriculum that has worked across the U.S. and the world to improve education since its founding more than 50 years ago.

These agreements are based on the successful model of CAST Tech High School, which had its 1882 Innovation partnership approved by the Texas Education Agency commissioner in spring 2018, resulting in a significant increase in funding for the school.

CAST Tech is part of the Centers for Applied Science & Technology network and has greatly benefited from an advisory council that provides ongoing support and resources for the school, including industry professionals who mentor students and volunteer their time to work with teachers. The result is a high-performing school that is a strong draw for both students and teachers.

The teachers and parents in the schools with new partnerships overwhelmingly voted to become an in-district charter — surpassing the state’s requirement of “a majority” in favor.

These are not just the well-known specialized schools — 14 of the 18 schools with new partnerships are ones that serve their neighborhood.

These partnerships are just one example of our efforts to ensure that every school in SAISD is best serving every student in our district.

Forty-five schools in SAISD now offer dual language programs — and that number will increase to 48 by next school year. Studies show that dual language programs fully close the achievement gap between English learners and native English speakers.

We now have nine schools with the renowned International Baccalaureate framework, and SAISD is the only district in the county with IB at the elementary, middle and high school levels.

We have many high-quality options for students, and we are attracting families that had never considered SAISD in the past.

We have more students graduating from high school on time than ever before, more students college-ready, and more students going to college.

For the first time, we are getting attention across the state and across the country for the work we are doing to transform this district and accelerate learning for our students. The efforts of our staff are being recognized, and we are noted as one of the fastest improving districts in Texas. The data is showing a strong upward trajectory, and we are on track for our goal to be a “B” district by 2020.

We are able to do this because of the commitment of our school board. Each trustee is an integral part of the community, with a strong belief in the abilities and possibilities for each and every child. Their vision and their determination to do what is truly in the best interest of each child is driving the positive change within our district and making SAISD a highly viable option for our families.

Pedro Martinez is the San Antonio Independent School District superintendent.

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