UPDATED: June 29, 2:38 p.m.
Private and charter schools are moving into Katy, giving area children more education options and meeting the needs of residents who have relocated to the area for jobs, the weather and good schools.
Several schools are planned for Katy in the next three years including the British International School of Houston, International Leadership of Texas charter school and the Epiphany School with Epiphany of the Lord Catholic Community church.
“Katy’s already got some of the best public schools in the entire country,” said Andrew Derry, British International School of Houston principal. “For us to be able to move there and be part of that and be another option for that is one of the major reasons [we chose Katy].”
While Katy ISD is expected to grow from its existing enrollment of more than 73,000 students to nearly 100,000 students by 2025—according to a 2015 KISD demographic study—the new private and charter schools will also be enrolling thousands of students on several different campuses.
The British International School of Houston is moving its campus to the intersection of Westgreen Boulevard and Franz Road in Katy in August, relocating from its Watonga Boulevard campus in Houston.
“There were many areas in Houston this building would have worked,” Derry said. “Parents really, really care [in Katy].”
After a four-year planning process, the British International School—known for its partnership with The Juilliard School in New York City—is building an $80 million, 275,000-square-foot campus. Featuring glass and open space, the campus is not constructed like a traditional brick and mortar school, BIS Project Management Director Ed Schmidt said.
“The design was intentionally flexible,” he said. “None of these classrooms have a front wall where a teacher stands there and talks all day.”
Epiphany of the Lord Catholic Community Church, on Norwalk Drive off Highland Knolls Boulevard, is fundraising to build a school on its campus.
“Epiphany Catholic is trying to build the first Catholic elementary and middle school in Katy,” fundraising campaign director Michael Henkenius said.
Henkenius works for Steier Group in Omaha, Nebraska, which works with Catholic parishes nationally.
“The design was intentionally flexible. None of these classrooms have a front wall where a teacher stands there and talks all day.”
– Ed Schmidt, BIS project management director
Katy already has a Catholic high school, St. John XXIII College Preparatory, but there are no elementary or middle school options, Henkenius said. St. John Communications Director Karen Casillas said the school would appreciate the Epiphany addition.
“We like that,” Casillas said. “They’d be a direct feeder to us.”
The parish has raised $2.9 million so far for the estimated $8 million to $10 million school, which would have kindergarten through eighth grade classes, the Rev. Tom Lam of Epiphany said. The goal is to have about 550 students and break ground on the religious holiday of Epiphany Sunday in January 2017, Lam said.
For its part, St. John XXIII College Preparatory completed an expansion in October, adding a multipurpose student center and dedicated rooms for art and music, among other things.
“It gives the school so much more of a collegiate feel,” Casillas said.
School officials plan to boost enrollment from 410 students to 525 students in the next three to five years, Casillas said. The school was formerly named Pope John XXIII High School, but changed its name in 2014 after the pope was deemed a saint.
International Leadership of Texas, a Dallas-based charter school system with elementary, middle and high schools, will be coming to Katy thanks to three parents who requested a campus in the area.
The mothers—Sandra Warner, Manya Leach and Nancy Salazar—all had children in Katy ISD’s Two-Way Immersion Program, an English and Spanish academic environment for kindergarten through fifth graders. When KISD refused to extend the program past fifth grade, the trio discovered IL Texas, which teaches English, Spanish and Chinese. The mothers met with IL Texas officials and petitioned to bring an IL Texas campus to Katy.
“It’s just enriching our community, not only in Katy but also in the Houston area,” Salazar said.
IL Texas will open its Katy kindergarten through eighth-grade campus in the fall while opening a campus in Alief at the same time. In fall 2017, IL Texas plans to open a high school between the two K-8 campuses, which will be about 20 miles apart.
IL Texas Houston Area Superintendent Dennis Taylor said the charter school is in a time of growth.
The school has 5,000 students at its Dallas-area campuses, but with five new schools opening, enrollment is expected to be about 11,000, he said.
“Our goal is to tackle the enormous need for kids to know the Spanish and Chinese languages to prepare for the tremendous opportunity out there in the job market,” Taylor said.
Aristoi Classical Academy, which has outgrown the space it leases at Alief Baptist Church in downtown Katy, is also expanding.
Brenda Davidson, the charter school’s superintendent and headmaster, said the academy is planning to purchase 24 acres of land on Morton Road in Katy for a campus that will eventually be home to a kindergarten through 12th-grade school. Davidson said Aristoi expects to close on its land purchase around April 1 and move students to the new campus by the fall of 2017.
“We’re going to start off with just the junior high [school] and high school,” Davidson said.
Elementary school students will remain on the main campus on 11th Street and Avenue D until Phase 2 of the new campus on Morton Road is completed. The school is adding a grade per year and is projected to have 1,000 students in the next few years, pushing the need for the new campus.
“The problem has just been that we have grown so quickly,” Davidson said. “We’re adding 100 students per year.”