Families looking for school choice options should look closely at San Antonio ISD, a traditional public school district that is actually one of the busiest charter school authorizers in Texas. On November 5, 2019, San Antonio ISD’s enrollment office began accepting applications for the 2020–21 school year. We have put together a guide to help you learn more about SAISD Choice Schools and take steps to enroll your child for the next school year.
About San Antonio ISD
Founded in 1899, SAISD is the third largest school district in Bexar County, and the 13th largest in Texas. The district boundaries include San Antonio’s central business district, world-renowned tourism hubs, posh historic neighborhoods, and areas of multigenerational poverty. Over the decades, SAISD enrollment has ebbed and flowed based on redlining, white flight to the suburbs, the growth of charter schools, and gentrification, but recently has stabilized at about 49,000 students.
Since 2015, when Pedro Martinez became superintendent, San Antonio ISD has adopted a System of Great Schools model. A traditional public school district can evolve into a 21st century education system by adopting some of the best practices of charter schools, such as offering families a variety of educational models, giving more autonomy to campus-level school leaders, and closing the least effective schools in the portfolio. These strategies give traditional public school districts the opportunity to effectively compete with charter schools for student enrollment, and they have the long-term effect of raising the overall quality of public education in a community.
SAISD is working deliberately to ensure that families of all socioeconomic levels have equitable access to choice schools. Chief Innovation Officer Mohammed Choudhury and his team studied census tracts in SAISD for factors such as income level, educational attainment, single-parent households, and home ownership. At SAISD choice schools, some seats are reserved for students from the most underprivileged census blocks, with a goal of creating diverse-by-design schools.
To read more about SAISD in the news, we recommend that you click on the articles linked at the bottom of this post, and also visit SAISD’s newsroom. Also, we invite you to join the San Antonio Charter Moms discussion group on Facebook and ask questions; the group includes current SAISD families who can comment with answers based on their own experiences.
San Antonio ISD Choice Schools
In 2020–21, San Antonio ISD will operate over 90 schools, of which 39 are choice schools, or have a choice/magnet program. Magnet programs in this district (aside from YWLA Secondary) are not selective, meaning they require no additional screening or testing to enroll. SAISD earned a B on its most recent district report card—a significant improvement over years past. The list below includes links to each campus’s school report cards.
- Advanced Learning Academy (ALA): 621 W. Euclid Ave., San Antonio, TX 78212 for grades PK–3; 210-738-9760; 637 N. Main Ave., San Antonio, TX 78205 for grades 4–12; 210-738-9763; grades PK–12; school report card—rated B
- Ball Academy—dual language: 343 Koehler Dr., San Antonio, TX 78223; 210-438-6845; grades PK–8; school report card—rated D
- Barkley-Ruiz Elementary—project-based learning: 1111 S. Navidad St., San Antonio, TX 78207; 210-978-7940; grades PK–6; school report card—rated C
- Bonham Academy—dual language, environmental science, and fine arts: 925 S. St. Mary’s St., San Antonio, TX 78205; 210-228-3300; grades K–8; school report card—rated D
- Bowden Academy—dual language: 515 Willow St., San Antonio, TX 78202; 210-738-9770; grades PK–8; school report card—rated F
- Brackenridge High School—Media & Film Magnet and Early College High School: 400 Eagleland Dr., San Antonio, TX 78210; 210-228-1200; grades 9–12; school report card—rated B
- Briscoe Elementary (International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme candidate schools)—dual language: 2015 S. Flores St., San Antonio, TX 78204; 210-228-3305; grades PK–5; school report card—rated C
- Burbank High School—International Baccalaureate: 1002 Edwards St., San Antonio, TX 78204; 210-228-1210; grades 9–12; school report card—rated C
- CAST Med High School: 2601 Louis Bauer Dr., San Antonio, TX 78235; grade 9 in 2019–20, expanding to 9–12; part of the CAST network
- CAST Tech High School: 637 N. Main Ave., San Antonio, TX 78205; 210-554-2700; grades 9–11 in 2019–20, expanding to 9–12; school report card—B; part of the CAST network
- Davis Middle School—STEM: 4702 E. Houston St., San Antonio, TX 78220; 210-978-7920; grades 6–8; school report card—rated D
- Democracy Prep at the Stewart Campus—dual language: 1950 Rigsby Ave., San Antonio, TX 78210; 210-438-6875; grades PK–6 in 2019–20, expanding to PK–8; school report card—rated D
- Edison High School—Health Professions Magnet: 701 Santa Monica Dr., San Antonio, TX 78212; 210-738-9720; grades 9–12; school report card—rated C
- Fenwick Academy (International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme candidate school)—dual language: 1930 Waverly Ave., San Antonio, TX 78228; 210-438-6540; grades PK–8; school report card—rated D
- Fox Tech High School—Health Professions Magnet, Judge Andy Mireles Law Magnet, Nursing H-TECH: 637 N. Main Ave., San Antonio, TX 78205; 210-738-9730; grades 9–12; school report card—rated A
- Gates Elementary: 510 Morningview Dr., San Antonio, TX 78220; 210-738-9780; grades PK–6; school report card—rated B
- Gonzales Early Childhood Education Center: 518 E. Magnolia Ave., San Antonio, TX 78212; 210-438-6830; grades PK3–PK4; school report card—rated D
- Harris Middle School—International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme: 325 Pruitt Ave., San Antonio, TX 78204; 210-228-1220; grades 6–8; school report card—rated F
- Hawthorne Academy—visual arts, citizenship, ethics: 115 W. Josephine St., San Antonio, TX 78212; 210-738-9795; grades K–8; school report card—rated D
- Highlands High School—Engineering Institute: 3118 Elgin Ave., San Antonio, TX 78210; 210-438-6800; grades 9–12; school report card—rated C
- Sam Houston High School—Cyber P-TECH USA: 4635 E. Houston St., San Antonio, TX 78220; 210-978-7900; grades 9–12; school report card—rated C
- Huppertz Elementary (International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme candidate school): 247 Bangor Dr., San Antonio, TX 78228; 210-438-6580; grades PK–5; school report card—rated F
- Irving Dual Language Academy: 1300 Delgado St., San Antonio, TX 78207; 210-738-9740; grades PK–3 in 2019–20, expanding to PK–8; school report card—rated C
- Jefferson High School—International Baccalaureate: 723 Donaldson Ave., San Antonio, TX 78201; 210-438-6570; grades 9–12; school report card—rated C
- Martin Luther King Academy—arts integration: 3501 M.L. King Dr., San Antonio, TX 78220; 210-978-7935; grades K–8; school report card—rated B
- Lamar Elementary—project-based learning, social-emotional learning, dual language, extended school year: 201 Parland Pl., San Antonio, TX 78209; 210-738-9800; grades PK3–6; school report card—rated D
- Lanier High School—Automotive Technology, ACE Advanced Academy: 1514 W. César E. Chávez Blvd., San Antonio, TX 78207; 210-978-7910; grades 9–12; school report card—rated C
- Longfellow Middle School (International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme candidate school): 1130 Sunshine Dr., San Antonio, TX 78228; 210-438-6520; grades 6–8, school report card—rated F
- Phoenix Middle College at St. Philip’s College Southwest Campus: 800 Quintana Rd., San Antonio, TX 78211; 210-486-7132; grades 11–12; school report card—rated F
- Rhodes Middle School—Media and Technology Magnet: 3000 Tampico St., San Antonio, TX 78207; 210-978-7925; grades 6–8; school report card—rated C
- Rodriguez Montessori Elementary—will reopen as dual language, Montessori; 3626 W. César E. Chávez Blvd., San Antonio, TX 78207; 210-554-2660; opening 2020–21 with grades PK3–1 (ages 3–6); (the previous school on that campus had a school report card, but take this with a grain of salt, because the school is being relaunched)
- St. Philip’s College Early College High School: 1801 Martin Luther King Dr., San Antonio, TX 78203; 210-486-2406; grades 9–12; school report card—rated A
- Steele Montessori Academy: 722 Haggin St., San Antonio, TX 78210; 210-438-6870; grades PK3–3 in 2019–20, expanding to PK3–6 (ages 3–12); school report card—rated D (based on Lamar Elementary; next year, Steele will have its own rating)
- Texans Can Academy at Highlands High School: 3118 Elgin Ave., San Antonio, TX 78210; 210-426-6808; grades 9–12; school report card—rated F on alternative standards; admission by referral
- Travis Early College High School: 1915 N. Main Ave., San Antonio, TX 78212; 210-738-9830; grades 9–12; school report card—rated A
- Twain Dual Language Academy: 2411 San Pedro Ave., San Antonio, TX 78212; 210-738-9745; grades PK3–5 in 2019–20; expanding to PK–8; school report card—rated A
- Woodlawn Academy—International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme and Middle Years Programme: 1717 W. Magnolia Ave., San Antonio, TX 78201; 210-438-6560; grades K–8; school report card—rated D
- Woodlawn Hills Elementary (International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme candidate school)—dual language: 110 W. Quill Dr., San Antonio, TX 78228; 210-438-6565; grades PK–5; school report card—rated D
- Young Men’s Leadership Academy at Phillis Wheatley: 415 Gabriel St., San Antonio, TX 78202; 210-354-9652; grades 4–10 in 2019–20, expanding to 4–12; school report card—rated B
- Young Women’s Leadership Academy: 2123 W. Huisache Ave., San Antonio, TX 78201; 210-438-6525; grades 6–12; school report card—rated A
- Young Women’s Leadership Academy Primary at Page: 401 Berkshire Ave., San Antonio, TX 78210; 210-438-6525; grades K–1 in 2019–20, expanding to K–5; (the previous school on that campus had a school report card, but take this with a grain of salt, because the school has been relaunched)
SAISD’s Office of Access and Enrollment Services has online resources and in-person help for families who are navigating choice schools. Here are some quick links to essential information on the web:
- On this page, find a downloadable version of the Experience SAISD Enrollment Guide, a comprehensive view of SAISD’s choice schools. Spiral-bound, printed copies are also available free at the Pickett Family Center and at events like Experience SAISD.
- On this page, find a one-page overview of lottery categories and priorities. (If you’re more familiar with open enrollment charter schools, which have a lottery for every grade, you may be surprised to find that SAISD choice schools have “lottery grades” and “waitlist grades”; look up each campus on the choice schools list to find which grades are which.) Also find an explanation of how the lottery works and other helpful guides.
- This page has information for SAISD parents, including a school directory that lists addresses, principals, etc. for all campuses in the district, a list of school calendars, links to uniform policies, student handbooks, transportation—all kinds of useful stuff.
To get in-person help on SAISD enrollment, meet with the staff at the Pickett Family Center, 1931 E. Houston St. San Antonio, TX 78202 (map). Call the Office of Access and Enrollment Services at 210-554-2660 or text them at 210-309-3259. Email them at email@example.com.
Download the free San Antonio Charter Schools app for an interactive map that includes these campuses and many more. You can also find campus information about choice schools in SAISD choice schools (and other networks) on our page Guide to Charter Schools in San Antonio.
Enroll at San Antonio ISD Choice Schools
To register their students at SAISD, families can apply online or download a paper application. According the school choice timeline, the application window for 2020–2021 opened on November 5, 2019 and will close on January 31, 2020. Offers will be announced on February 12, 2020; the deadline to accept those offers is February 28, 2020. Another round of offers will go out to waitlisted families on March 3, and those families will have two business days to accept. For schools that still have seats available, a second application window will open in March and close on March 26, 2020. Find more information at SAISD’s Frequently Asked Questions.
- Experience SAISD is the district’s flagship school choice event. This year, it will be on January 11, 2020 from 10 AM to 2 PM at the Freeman Expo Hall, 3201 E. Houston St., San Antonio, TX 78219 (map). It’s a free event with fun activities for all ages. For transportation, families can get a free shuttle ride to and from the Expo Hall from a high school in their neighborhood.
- General information sessions are welcoming for parents who are getting to know school choice at SAISD and want an overview of school models and how to apply. Meeting times vary—mornings or evenings—and most are in the cafeteria at the Burnet Learning Center (where the school board meets), 406 Barrera St., San Antonio, TX 78210 (map). Upcoming meeting dates: January 23, 2020 at 5-6 PM at the Burbank High School Testing Center, March 28, 2020 at 9-10 AM at Burnet, and April 27, 2020 at 5-6 PM at Burnet.
- School information sessions are a good way for families to learn more about particular schools they are interested in for their children. Find dates and times for school information sessions by visiting the list of choice schools and programs and clicking on the school you are interested in; then, scroll to the bottom and click the + to expand the section on information sessions. These events are also listed on the social media pages for each campus.
- In November, SAISD offered bus tours that started at the Burnet Learning Center and visited several campuses. Look for these events to repeat next year.
We also recommend following these SAISD social media accounts:
- San Antonio ISD on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube
- Advanced Learning Academy (ALA) on Facebook and Instagram
- Ball Academy on Facebook and Twitter
- Barkley-Ruiz Elementary on Twitter
- Bonham Academy on Facebook and Twitter
- Bowden Academy on Twitter
- Brackenridge High School on Facebook and Twitter
- Briscoe Elementary on Facebook
- Burbank High School on Facebook and Twitter
- CAST Schools on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube
- CAST Med High School on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter
- CAST Tech High School on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter
- Democracy Prep Public Schools on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube
- Democracy Prep at the Stewart Campus on Facebook and Twitter
- Edison High School on Twitter
- Fenwick Academy on Twitter
- Fox Tech High School on Twitter
- Gonzales Early Childhood Education Center on Facebook
- Harris Middle School on Facebook
- Hawthorne Academy on Facebook
- Sam Houston High School on Twitter
- Huppertz Elementary on Facebook and Twitter
- Jefferson High School on Facebook and Twitter
- Lamar Elementary on Twitter
- Lanier High School on Facebook and Twitter
- Longfellow Middle School on Facebook
- Rhodes Middle School on Instagram and Twitter
- Steele Montessori Academy on Facebook
- Texans Can Academy at Highlands on Facebook
- Travis Early College High School on Instagram
- Woodlawn Academy on Facebook and Twitter
- Young Men’s Leadership Academy at Phillis Wheatley on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter
- Young Women’s Leadership Academy on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter
- Young Women’s Leadership Academy Primary at Page on Facebook and Instagram
In addition, please join the San Antonio Charter Moms discussion group on Facebook to post questions and search for previous discussions about SAISD choice schools.
San Antonio ISD as a System of Great Schools
In our school guides, we usually give an overview of the school culture. Many charter school networks take pride in being able to successfully replicate their distinctive school culture from the founding campus to new campuses across the state and beyond. SAISD is different because it’s a traditional public school district that has embraced the System of Great Schools model. In effect, SAISD’s Office of Innovation is a charter authorizer operating a portfolio of schools with different models and partnerships. So, without going into depth about any particular school model, we will group and summarize the most significant school models in SAISD and identify their partners.
- Alamo Colleges campuses are the partners for SAISD’s early college high schools, including Brackenridge Early College High School (St. Philip’s College), Phoenix Middle College (St. Philip’s College), St. Philip’s Early College High School, and Travis Early College High School (San Antonio College).
- Braination, a charter school network better known for Anne Frank Inspire Academy (an open enrollment charter school), is SAISD’s partner at Brewer Academy, an innovative school that students with special needs can be referred to.
- The CAST Schools network offers expertise in career-oriented, experiential learning. In SAISD, CAST Schools is the partner for CAST Tech, CAST Med, and Advanced Learning Academy (ALA). Outside of SAISD, CAST Schools has partnered with Southwest ISD for CAST STEM and East Central ISD for CAST Lead.
- Democracy Prep, a New York-based charter school network known for civics education and closing the achievement gap, is the charter partner at Stewart Elementary.
- Dual language programs are now available at many SAISD campuses. At Irving and Twain every single student is given dual-language instruction. Other programs include a dual-language stream within the school.
- Highscope, known for curriculum and professional development in early childhood education (including at Pre-K 4 SA), has partnerships with SAISD for early childhood education centers Carroll and Tynan.
- Texas Council for International Studies is SAISD’s partner for its International Baccalaureate campuses, including Briscoe Elementary (PYP Candidate), Burbank High School (DP), Fenwick Academy (PYP, MYP Candidate), Harris Middle School (MYP), Huppertz Elementary (PYP Candidate), Jefferson High School (DP), Woodlawn Academy (PYP, MYP), and Woodlawn Hills Elementary (PYP Candidate).
- P-TECH (Pathways in Technology Early College High School) is a model for career programs. SAISD offers Cyber P-TECH at Sam Houston High School and Nursing H-TECH at Fox Tech High School.
- Relay Lab Schools, a residency teacher and leadership training program, is SAISD’s partner at Ogden Elementary and Storm Elementary.
- The School Innovation Collaborative was formed to serve as SAISD’s partner at Bowden Academy, Gates Elementary, and Lamar Elementary.
- Texans Can Academies, a network of dropout recovery charter schools, has partnered with SAISD at Highlands High School to help students who are behind on credits to graduate.
- Young Women’s Preparatory Network is the force behind a network of YWLA schools in cities across Texas, and has recently stepped into the partnership role in San Antonio and Midland and San Antonio. In SAISD, they are the partner at Young Women’s Leadership Academy (6–12) and Young Women’s Leadership Academy Primary at Page (K–5).
These SAISD choice schools do not have outside partners, but their innovation is driven internally by the process of developing and following a charter—the mission that makes them distinctive: Ball Academy, Barkley-Ruiz Elementary, Bonham Academy, Davis Middle School, Rhodes Middle School, Hawthorne Academy, Martin Luther King Academy, Steele Montessori, and Young Men’s Leadership Academy.
Organizations That Lift Up San Antonio ISD
SAISD’s turnaround efforts have been under intense scrutiny for the past several years. We encourage readers to not just sit on the sidelines, but to get involved in the effort. The success of SAISD benefits the whole community, from the students and their families, to the future well-educated workforce. Here are some suggestions of ways to get involved:
- Leadership SAISD is a training program that develops leaders who are knowledgeable about education. In the summer, apply to be part of their year-long cohort. Attend quarterly EdChats.
- The SAISD Foundation gathers support from the community and awards grants to recognize innovation on SAISD campuses.
- Serve on a Citizens Advisory Committee to oversee SAISD bond programs.
- Get involved in SAISD school board elections, either as a candidate or an informed constituent.
- Participate in an education committee at a local chamber of commerce, including the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s Education Committee, the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce’s Education and Workforce Council, and the South San Antonio Chamber of Commerce’s Education/Workforce Committee. Also—Tech Bloc.
- Network and learn with San Antonio Leaders and Teachers (SALT).
San Antonio ISD is going through a transformation. For education policy nerds, particularly those who follow district-charter partnerships, it’s one of the most interesting school districts in the United States right now. For families, it’s a brave new world of navigating school choice, with interesting new school models to explore. The education reformers, the families of SAISD students, and the entire community are hoping that this period of change results in a successful urban school district that provides high quality education equitably to all its residents. The early signs show that SAISD is making progress towards that goal.
Read More About San Antonio ISD
- “SAISD’s Fox Tech Will Open New Program Next Fall to Graduate RNs,” Emily Donaldson, Rivard Report, December 17, 2019
- “The Turnaround,” Alia Malik, San Antonio Express-News, December 15, 2019
- “San Antonio ISD Enrollment ‘More Stable’ After Years of Decline,” Emily Donaldson, Rivard Report, October 8, 2019
- “Partnerships are changing San Antonio ISD,” Alia Malik, San Antonio Express-News, October 4, 2019
- “TEA report card has SAISD leading broad improvement of San Antonio-area schools,” Liz Teitz and Krista Torralva, San Antonio Express-News, August 15, 2019
- “The Charter Effect: San Antonio ISD Embraces School Choice To Attract Families,” Camille Phillips, Texas Public Radio, July 2, 2019
- “As Downtown Development Spreads, Displacement and Gentrification are Set to Roll Over San Antonio’s West Side,” Ben Olivo, Sanford Nowlin, and Gaige Davila, San Antonio Current, May 21, 2019
- “SAISD Trustee Elections: Stay the Course or Put on the Brakes?” Bridie Chaudoir, San Antonio Charter Moms, April 24, 2019
- “SAISD Planning New Fox Tech Program to Graduate RNs,” Emily Donaldson, Rivard Report, April 15, 2019
- “Portrait of a Turnaround Principal,” Bekah McNeel, Edutopia, May 16, 2019
- “[Hall Monitor] Meet Doug Dawson, the Guy You Should Have Already Met,” San Antonio Charter Moms, April 20, 2019
- “[Hall Monitor] SAISD Approves New Generation of Autonomous Schools,” San Antonio Charter Moms, March 30, 2019
- “San Antonio ISD Superintendent Doubles Down On Criticism, Highlights ‘Turnaround’ Schools,” Camille Phillips, Texas Public Radio, February 13, 2019
- “Sam Houston High School to House New Cybersecurity School in 2019,” Emily Donaldson, Rivard Report, November 12, 2018
- “78207: America’s Most Radical School Integration Experiment,” Beth Hawkins, 74 Million, September 25, 2018
- “The Architect: How One Texas Innovation Officer Is Rethinking School Integration,” Beth Hawkins, 74 Million, September 25, 2018
- “SAISD Will Triple Its Dual Language Programs in 2018-19,” Emily Donaldson, Rivard Report, July 23, 2018
- “Mohammed Choudhury On Empowered Educators, Controlled Choice And The Third Way For Urban Districts,” Emily Langhorne, Forbes, June 22, 2018
- “San Antonio ISD Celebrates Addition Of International Baccalaureate Program,” Camille Phillips, Texas Public Radio, June 11, 2018
- “Commentary: Texas Has Ambitious Plans to Transform Urban Schools,” David Osborne and Emily Langhorne, US News & World Report, April 13, 2018
- “Integrating Schools in San Antonio: Start With One. An Interview with Mohammed Choudhury,” Alice Opalka and Georgia Heyward, CRPE, February 23, 2018
- “21st Century Education System: A Discussion in San Antonio with David Osborne on Reinventing America’s Schools,” Inga Cotton, San Antonio Charter Moms, December 5, 2017
- “SAISD Plans to Tackle Poverty One School at a Time,” Bekah McNeel, Rivard Report, October 11, 2017
- “New Departments Herald Changes, Innovation for SAISD,” Bekah McNeel, Rivard Report, July 31, 2017
- “SAISD Partners with Special Ed Charter to Create Brewer Academy,” Bekah McNeel, Rivard Report, May 15, 2017