Brentwood Middle School students raise their hands in teacher Megan Prado's seventh grade integrated reading and writing course.
Students at Brentwood Middle School in Edgewood ISD raise their hands in a seventh-grade integrated reading and writing course. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

Two new tools introduced recently by local education nonprofits are attempting to expand information about and access to San Antonio’s host of school options.

San Antonio is home to more than 15 traditional public school districts, even more charter school systems, and numerous private schools. Public school districts offer both specialized magnet programs to students living within district boundaries and in-district charter options that open enrollment to students living outside the district. Both require students to apply for admission.

There is no common application for all the schools or one place to view verified information about each of the several hundred campuses.

Families Empowered, a local nonprofit, launched the Apply San Antonio website on Nov. 1 as one location to access applications for different schools. The website connects families to applications for a number of schools – private, public magnet, and charter. There is one common deadline, Feb. 10.

The homepage of Apply San Antonio.

Participating schools include charters Brooks Academy, Compass Rose Academy, Jubilee Academies, Promesa Academy, San Antonio Preparatory Charter School, and Southwest Preparatory School; private Providence Catholic School and St. Mary Magdalen School; and Edgewood ISD, which opened enrollment to students living outside district boundaries.

Families Empowered is in talks with other San Antonio school systems to include them in Apply SA.

“We wanted to simplify the process because in San Antonio we don’t have anything that resembles a unified enrollment system,” said Quincy Boyd, Families Empowered’s Community and School Partnerships Manager. “We want to increase access to schools across the city.”

Families Empowered also launched similar programs for Houston and Austin.

Another San Antonio-based nonprofit, City Education Partners (CEP), also has introduced a tool aimed at making choosing a school easier. CEP created the San Antonio School Finder, a website with information on all of the city’s more than 600 campuses.

The goal is to have a “holistic school-search experience that includes more than just ratings and data,” the website states. San Antonio School Finder contains information on public schools, including district, charter, and magnet school options. Information about private schools is not available through the website.

Family members can view the website’s map, with pins marking the location of individual campuses, and narrow down their search by selecting desired school attributes.

San Antonio School Finder’s web page showcases a map with pins marking the location of individual campuses.

For example, a parent could choose dual credit or online learning as preferences. CEP’s new tool will whittle down the search based on these preferences, and produce a list of schools that matches the searcher’s inquiry.

“We have talked to families across San Antonio … and in places where there is less access to high-quality schools and higher poverty rates, parents were only able to list the current school that their child was at,” CEP’s Senior Director of Community Engagement Dalia Contreras said. “That meant they weren’t aware of any additional schools in the educational landscape.”

As of the website’s launch in mid-November, roughly half of the city’s schools had submitted information to the finder. School’s submissions go beyond the academic data available through the Texas Education Agency. They can detail specific programs or curriculum offerings of individual campuses.

In the future, CEP hopes to expand use of the tool to other services families need, like after-school care.

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Emily Donaldson

Emily Donaldson reports on education for the San Antonio Report.