Over the next decade, Spring ISD is expected to lose more than 1,600 students, according to a recent demographics study conducted by Templeton Demographics. Demographers attribute the loss largely in part to the growing presence of charter schools.
“[Spring ISD’s number of students leaving the district] jumped up about two years ago, and that’s because of charter schools, frankly,” said Rocky Gardiner, director of School District Consulting with Templeton Demographics, during the Spring ISD board of trustees workshop Feb. 7. “So that hasn’t changed but it has leveled off, so we think that’s a sign that things are getting a little bit better.”
Gardiner said while charter schools typically have a bigger effect on elementary and middle schools, the opening of one particular charter school this year did effect SISD high schools: Legacy The School of Sport Sciences on Spring Creek Drive.
“[Legacy] opened up with 450 students, and we saw the lowest high school cohorts that we’ve seen in Spring [ISD] in over five years,” Gardiner said.
Charter schools have continued to be a concern by SISD leaders this year, as previously mentioned by Superintendent Rodney Watson during the 2019 State of the District on Jan. 30.
“There’s a greater influx of students who are going to charter schools,” Watson said. “We’ve seen an uptick in charter schools moving into the Spring area, so we’re going to continue to monitor that as well as we’re forecasting for the future.”
While SISD’s three main high schools are expected to lose students over the next 10 years, high schools of choice such as Spring Early College Academy and Wunsche High School are expected to see slight upticks.
In hopes of curbing this trend, SISD leaders are looking to the 86th Texas Legislature for assistance.
Most recently, the SISD board of trustees adopted its legislative priorities at its March 19 meeting, among which was leveling the playing field for all publicly-supported schools, which includes charter schools.
“[There] is not an equal playing field right now between public and charter schools, even though they’re both supported by taxpayer money,” trustee Deborah Jensen said. “We’re just asking for the same transparency and equitable funding with all publicly supported schools.”