Middle and high school students who have been attending Harmony Science Academy-West Houston will have a new home when the 2016-17 school year begins Aug. 17.
The K-12 public charter school is putting the finishing touches on a new 42,000-square-foot campus called Harmony School of Innovation-Katy.
The new campus will house grades sixth through 12th adjacent to its current facility, which will remain open but undergo a name change to Harmony Science Academy-Katy.
The Harmony Science Academy-Katy will host grades kindergarten through fifth. The four-year HSI-Katy project—which includes three years of planning and one year of construction—comes at an estimated cost of $5.6 million.
“Harmony Public School[s] has been one of the most fast-pacing charter schools that has come up in the state of Texas; all over the country,” HSA-West Houston Principal Jasmeen Kohli said.
Kohli said the reason behind the school’s success is the focus on academics.
“Our focus is very straight: It’s a college prep charter school. Currently we have a 100 percent college acceptance rate with a 98 percent graduation rate,” she said.
The new 42,000-square-foot HSI-Katy campus will host grades 6 through 12 and cost an estimated $5.6 million to build.[/caption]
HSA-West Houston opened in 2011 and is currently one of 47 Harmony Public Schools; 46 of which are in Texas with one in Washington, D.C.
The HSI-Katy expansion and a new location in El Paso—also set to open in the fall—will give the company 49 total campuses with a total enrollment over 30,000 and a waiting list of roughly the same number, according to Stephanie Butts, Harmony’s media relations specialist.
Kohli, who enters her sixth year overall with Harmony and will become the principal of HSI-Katy.
She said HSA-West Houston has gone from 450 students in its inaugural year as a K-8 institution to 920 student last year after gradually transitioning to a K-12 campus.
Due to Harmony’s company plan in conjunction with HSA-West Houston’s need to accommodate the increased demand of the rapidly growing Katy area, the location was a natural candidate for the construction of the new upper-level campus, said Timothy Lankford, a communications specialist for Outreach Strategists—an external public relations company that contracts with Harmony.
“The expansion of Harmony’s existing campus in Katy was driven by the overwhelming demand from parents in the area seeking a high-quality education for their children,” Lankford said. “Katy’s continued growth since HSA-West Houston opened its doors in 2011 and its proximity to Houston’s energy corridor has only increased the need for a STEM-focused college preparatory school.”
STEM—science, technology, engineering and mathematics—is central to the Harmony system’s academic curriculum and, although tuition is free, admittance to individual institutions is based upon a lottery drawing, Kohli said.
Kohli said HSI-Katy has already been given a Texas Education Agency Texas-STEM designation, coming equipped with four STEM labs and a Pitsco science lab—which consists of web-based, hands-on learning.
She said that the institution’s superior STEM program and elite reputation as a result of the lottery format have allowed HSA-West Houston to compete with other public school options, including Katy ISD.
“Katy, we all know, is an area of oil [and] gas; it’s filled with engineers,” she said. “And I think a lot of parents who send their students [here]—the student demographics also—they are catering towards those areas.”
Kohli said her goal for HSI-Katy is to increase community involvement with the school’s students through various opportunities, such as industry-related lectures, job-shadowing and internships.
“I feel, on an academic growth level, we have done a tremendous job,” she said. “My aim of moving into sixth through 12th [grades] will be getting more stakeholders involved.”