More charter schools opening in Houston area

The popularity of charter schools as an alternative to non-charter public schools is increasing with several new campuses opening in the Houston area for the 2017-2018 class year.

1,100 students started classes last week at International Leadership of Texas Orem K-8. The new building on East Orem Drive in southeast Houston is the latest campus to open as part of the quickly expanding ILTexas charter schools. 

Uniforms, trilingual education, and a strengthened mind, body and character are all aspects of this new charter school that Houston-area parents wanted for their children, causing ILTexas Orem K-8 to open at near capacity.

“The mission of ILTexas is to prepare students for exceptional leadership roles in the international community by emphasizing servant leadership, mastering English, Spanish and Chinese languages, and strengthening the mind, body and character,” said ILTexas Orem principal Joshua Brown.

ILTexas opened as a charter school in Dallas in 2012. It has since opened campuses throughout the state, adding to the more than 700 charter school campuses now in operation in Texas, according to the Texas Charter Schools Association.

“It’s really just giving families a choice," said Drew Masterson of Masterson Advisors, a financial advisor to several Houston-area charter schools, including ILTexas. "Not everyone is going to want to learn Chinese but obviously a lot of people do, and you have other charter schools, like Harmony, that started here in Houston and specializes in STEM education.”

It’s a choice parents like Christian Castaneda latched onto this year, withdrawing her children from Almeda Elementary to try ILTexas Orem.

“They have more activities, more programs, and I think it’s just better,” said Castaneda. “They come home speaking Chinese words, so that’s very awesome.”

And with new funding help this year, you can expect the charter school trend to continue.

“This year is the first year of capital funding for charter schools in Texas, which was approved in the last legislature," said Masterson. "It’s roughly $200-a-kid, and so that’s a huge win for the charter schools financially, to get some money from the state for their buildings.”

In addition to the expansion campus at ILTexas Orem, three brand new charter holders opened schools in the Houston area this year as well, according to Texas Charter Schools Association. Those include Yellowstone College Prep in the historic Third Ward of Houston, Legacy the School of Sport Sciences in Spring, and Etoile Academy Charter School in southwest Houston.