IDEA plans move into REAL Learning Academy site for 2013-14

IDEA Public Schools plans to move its programming at IDEA Allan Academy and College Prep about 10 miles to a new temporary location in Southwest Austin for the 2013-14 school year.

Larkin Tackett, the charter school group's executive director, said IDEA signed a more than $400,000 one-year lease with The Church in Austin for a space located at 220 Foremost Drive. The new location is the current site of Real Learning Academy, a free public charter school that in December 2012 said it is planning to relocate this spring to another campus at 6400 Bluff Springs Road.

Classes at the new school start Aug. 21. IDEA has been looking for a new location for its more than 540 students since December, when the Austin ISD board of trustees voted to terminate the district's contract with IDEA effective at the end of the 2012-13 school year.

Tackett said that while Allan's current site has the capacity to serve nearly 1,000 students, the new location will have adequate room for IDEA to implement its college preparatory academic programming.

"It was really the best short term option for our students as we build our permanent building," Tackett said. "We're evaluating a number of options for the permanent side, and really keeping the best interest of our students and families is the top priority in making that decision."

IDEA informed parents about the move April 10, Tackett said. The college preparatory program and other services including transportation, breakfast, lunch and after-school programs will remain the same, according to IDEA.

"We're working very hard to retain our current students," Tackett said. "We know that our families are very invested in our college prep culture and program, and the majority of our families are going to stay with us."

Background

IDEA asked the AISD board to consider leasing the current Allan Elementary building at 4900 Gonzales St. to IDEA for one more year. At an April 1 board meeting, President Vincent Torres said that while trustees were somewhat split on the issue, the board seemed to be in agreement about not leasing the school to IDEA. Instead, the board plans to close the Allan Elementary School campus at the end of the 2012-13 school year.

In the 2008–09 school year, the TEA allowed AISD to repurpose the Academically Unacceptable Johnston High School, and it became Eastside Memorial High School. Allan Elementary is a feeder school to EMHS. The board's approval of a contract with IDEA in 2011 to develop a charter school at the Allan campus linked the IDEA partnership to the high school's reconstitution plan, which was put in place because of multiple years of low ratings from the TEA.

EMHS now could face closure or a Texas Education Agency takeover in 2013–14 as a result of board actions late last year to cancel the district's contract with IDEA.