Over the strong protests of teachers and teacher groups, the San Antonio ISD Board of Education voted Monday night to award management contracts to private, non-profit organizations to manage the day to day operations of 19 SAISD schools, including Jefferson and Burbank High Schools, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
The SAISD has been in the forefront of taking advantage of new state laws which allow private organizations to help run both traditional and non traditional public charter and magnet schools which are part of the public, taxpayer funded school district.
The board stressed that the management agreement is intended to help improve the quality of education at the schools and will not alter the status of the 19 campuses as public schools.
"This is a major move by the current superintendent to turn SAISD into a system of separate schools with separate governing boards (a charter-like system)," The San Antonio Alliance, representing teachers and support personnel, said in a statement.
Burbank and Jefferson, along with Harris Middle School, Fenwick Academy, Woodlawn Academy, Briscoe Elementary, Huppertz Elementary, and Woodlawn Hills Elementary, for example, will be managed by the Texas Council for International Studies. According to information released by the school district, "TCIS’s mission isto partner with Texas school districts to achieve the highest quality implementation of the International Baccalaureate program. TCIS is committed to shaping the future of IB World Schools in Texas through program development, professional training, curriculum planning, marketing support and scholarship programs."
The contract gives the management company control over day to day activities, including employee assignments, length of the school day, and hiring of the principal. The management company will not set teacher salaries and benefits, which are negotiated by contract with the school board.
The San Antonio Alliance called the move 'a wholesale give away of the operations of these schools.'
TCIS stresses that it will involve teachers, support staff, school personnel, and the community in all major decisions regarding the operation of the schools. Other private non profits chosen to manage SAISD schools also made similar commitments.
For example, the management group chosen to operate Bowden Academy says it is committed to improving flagging student performance at the school.
"Bowden Academy students are struggling to demonstrate performance in the meets and masters areas in reading and writing in comparison to state averages and many district averages. For example, in 2018 Bowden students scored 22% behind the state in STAAR reading meets and 11% behind the state in STAAR reading masters. In the last three years, Bowden students have made incremental growth in scoring meets and masters in reading, math, and writing. While these trends are encouraging, no content area scored above 30% meets and masters in the 2017-18 school year," the management group told the district.