A third grade classroom at Stewart Elementary on the first day of school.
A third grade classroom at Democracy Prep at Stewart Elementary on the first day of school. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

Trustees made their high expectations official for three historically low-performing San Antonio Independent School District schools when the school board approved performance contracts Monday night for Democracy Prep at Stewart Elementary, Relay Lab Schools Texas at Storm Elementary, and Relay Lab Schools Texas at Ogden Elementary.

The three schools, all of which had failed state accountability standards at least three years in a row by 2017, are now operating as in-district charters. State law requires school districts hold their in-district charters accountable by approving performance contracts that outline expectations and set goals.

Should the in-district charters fail to uphold the stipulations of the contract, districts can place the schools on probation or revoke the charter entirely.

SAISD’s contracts specify academic and operational expectations and require schools remain true to their charter’s specific mission, whether it be a Montessori style of learning or curriculum focused on citizenship.

The performance contracts approved Monday outline SAISD’s expectation that each school achieve a rating of at least B in the state’s accountability system by 2022-23.

Democracy Prep at Stewart, one of the district’s newest charter schools, opened as a new model in place of Stewart Elementary in fall 2018. The school was rated an 84 on the 2018 state accountability system, which would merit a B.

The district wants to see improvement in a state-scored category called school progress that rates how well students are advancing year over year. In 2018, the school was given an 89. By 2022-23, SAISD wants Democracy Prep to receive an A in this category.

Storm Elementary was rated a 70 overall on the 2018 accountability system. This would equate to a C letter grade. In the school progress area, Storm scored a 69 in 2018. SAISD wants Storm to raise this grade to a B by 2022-23.

Ogden Elementary received a 59 overall rating in 2018, and like the two other schools, is expected to receive a B grade or higher in 2022-23. This will include an increase from its current score of a 62 in school progress to a B letter grade by 2022-23.

Each contract also stipulates the schools will have an average daily student attendance rate of at least 95 percent and a student mobility rate a measure of the frequency of students’ transfers to another school – no greater than 20 percent.

Ollie Storm Elementary School is located Southwest of downtown and is part of the San Antonio Independent School District.
Storm Elementary School, southwest of downtown, had ratings of 69 in school progress and 70 overall in 2018. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

All three in-district charter schools are expected to show that teachers’ satisfaction levels meet or exceed the district average and that parents show a high degree of confidence in the schools. Both factors will be measured by districtwide surveys that have yet to be developed.

The three contracts each contain a financial health component within its contract that requires the schools to prepare annual financial statements that will be audited.

SAISD currently has 24 in-district charters, the majority of which were started in 2015 or after. The district still needs to review the contracts of 17 schools that have not yet revised their performance contracts in line with updated board policy.

Emily Donaldson reports on education for the San Antonio Report.