Guide to Enrolling in BASIS Schools in San Antonio for 2023–24

Lithium Rocks teacher cart BASIS San Antonio Northeast Campus

BASIS Charter Schools are some of the highest performing schools in the United States and the world, and San Antonio is fortunate to host a cluster of BASIS campuses. In fact, BASIS Texas Charter Schools is tied for the #1 district in Texas on the TEA’s 2022 school report cards. On November 3, 2022, BASIS Texas Charter Schools began accepting applications for enrollment for the 2023–24 school year. We have put together a guide to help you learn more about BASIS San Antonio schools and take steps to enroll your child for the 2023–24 school year.

About BASIS Charter Schools

Since its founding in 1998 in Tucson, Arizona—and continuing with its expansion to Texas in 2013—the network of BASIS Charter Schools has offered students a high-level education via an advanced curriculum that is benchmarked against the best education systems in the world. BASIS Charter Schools teachers are experts in the subject matter they are teaching, and the network’s curriculum provides students with deep content knowledge at an accelerated pace.

BASIS Charter Schools have a history of performing well in national rankings. BASIS San Antonio Shavano appeared in the 2022 US News & World Report rankings rankings as the #1 high school in San Antonio and the #8 high school in Texas; among charter schools, BASIS San Antonio Shavano was #1 charter high school in Texas. Along with IDEA Public Schools, BASIS Charter Schools are among the few top-ranked high schools in Texas that are open-enrollment public schools—that is, campuses that anyone can attend simply by applying, and which are tuition-free; the other highly-ranked schools in Texas have selective admissions policies. Across the network, BASIS charter schools rank highly among US News & World Report’s best high schools, best charter schools, and best STEM schools. BASIS students also earn AP Scholar awards at high rates. Many BASIS graduates go on to attend selective colleges and universities.

class at BASIS San Antonio Shavano Campus

About BASIS Charter School Curriculum and Student Life

As we shared in an earlier post about the network’s unique K–4 curriculum, primary grade students work with two teachers in each subject or class: a Subject Expert Teacher who is an academic expert on a specific subject and only teaches the students that particular subject, and a Learning Expert Teacher who is an expert in elementary education and pedagogy, and stays with the students for the entire school day. Students are exposed to subjects that they would generally not encounter in traditional public schools, including engineering, science literacy, and a course called “Connections” which brings different subjects together; the curriculum is designed to make connections across different subjects, and does so consistently, by working on related projects.

Students in the BASIS Charter School Curriculum learn quite specifically how to take ownership of their own learning. They keep a planner called a CJ, short for Communications Journal, to write down their assignments; teachers across different courses use CJs to communicate with students and their parents. By middle school (grades 5–7), students using those organizational skills for subjects including Physical Geography, Introduction to Science, and Engineering & Technology, Physics, and World History.

In high school (grades 8–12), students begin to take AP classes, but will complete most of them by 10th grade. After 11th grade, some students choose to graduate early, but most students stay to take college-level Capstone courses, as well as to complete Senior Projects—a months-long deep dive into a thesis of the students’ choosing. The Senior Project is the true culmination of the network’s curriculum, and can involve research at a university lab, or an internship at a corporation, think thank, or government entity, and may involve travel. Besides the obvious academic aspects, the Senior Project encourages students to pursue their own special interests, requires that they learn to present their research findings to their peers and teachers, and supports building self-reliance and independence.

BASIS Charter Schools have a culture of hard work and celebrate individuality. Students observe a casual dress code—a visitor walking down the hallway during a passing period might encounter purple hair, band T-shirts, and superhero gear. As we discussed in our earlier post about the BASIS San Antonio—Shavano Campus, students can participate in a broad array of extracurricular activities in the realms of academics, arts and culture, and sports.

For more information about BASIS Charter Schools, we recommend you read some of the news stories linked at the bottom of this post. Also, we invite you to join the San Antonio Charter Moms discussion group on Facebook and ask questions; the group includes current BASIS families who can comment with answers about their own experiences.

SAMC Photo shoot 2019 Brandy Grey - Firefly Photography

BASIS Charter Schools in San Antonio

During the 2023–24 school year, the network will include five schools in the San Antonio region, including the new BASIS San Antonio Jack Lewis Jr. Campus on the Far West Side. On its district report card, BASIS Charter Schools in Texas earned an A rating, with an impressive score of 99 out of 100; the list below includes links to campus report cards.

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 BASIS schools (and many other schools of choice) on our page Guide to Charter Schools in San Antonio.

BASIS Texas Charter Schools Number One District

Enroll at BASIS Charter Schools in San Antonio

Families can apply online to enroll their children at BASIS Charter Schools. Open enrollment for 2023–24 will begin on November 3, 2022 and continues through December 15, 2022. On January 10, 2023, the network will hold a random lottery, and the students who are selected will receive an email inviting them to register. The other students will be placed on waiting lists; if a spot becomes available, they will be notified. There is an enrollment FAQ, and each campus website has its own FAQ (like this one for BASIS San Antonio—Northeast Campus) where you can find more information about enrollment.

Visiting a campus for an open house or school tour is a great way to learn more about it. Each campus website has information about upcoming event and school tour dates, as well as virtual tours and downloadable handouts. 

Each campus has an interest list so you can subscribe to email updates about enrollment dates, upcoming events, and other news.

We also recommend following these accounts on social media:

In addition, please join the San Antonio Charter Moms discussion group on Facebook to post questions and search previous discussions about BASIS Texas Charter Schools. The group includes families with current students at BASIS who may be able to answer your questions.


Facts about BASIS Charter Schools

BASIS was founded in Tucson, Arizona by Michael and Olga Block. They were motivated to found a charter school because they saw international students—including the Blocks’ own daughter, who had gone to school in Prague—working at a higher level than American students.

In her 2013 book The Smartest Kids in the World (now also a film), Amanda Ripley compared high schools in the United States with their counterparts in South Korea, Poland, and Finland by looking through the eyes of American exchange students visiting those countries. She mentioned BASIS as an example of an American school system that is trying to raise standards and graduate students who can compete on an international level. Here is our earlier post about Ripley’s 2015 visit to San Antonio.

​​BASIS Texas is a partner of Choose to Succeed, a nonprofit organization working to attract the nation’s best public charter schools to San Antonio. If you like what you have learned so far about BASIS Texas Charter Schools, we recommend that you make plans to apply for enrollment. You are also welcome to join the San Antonio Charter Moms discussion group to learn more and interact with current BASIS families.

Charter Moms Chats

Watch Ken Tyrrell, Head of Operations at BASIS San Antonio—Jack Lewis Jr. Campus, and America Palmer, Director of Academic Policy and Process and Director of Events at BASIS.ed Texas, speak with Inga Cotton on Charter Moms Chats on September 29, 2022 at 4:00 PM Central live on Facebook and YouTube.

Ken Tyrrell is the Head of Operations at BASIS San Antonio—Jack Lewis Jr. Campus. Mr. Tyrrell is no stranger to managing high-performing operations and launching successful schools in the non-profit education realm. Having worked for more than ten years in the space, Mr. Tyrrell has launched 24 schools in the San Antonio, Austin, and Dallas–Fort Worth areas, and regularly consults other school networks on how to replicate operational successes so educators can focus on student outcomes. Prior to joining BASIS, Mr. Tyrrell served as the Vice President of Operations at Great Hearts Texas, where he managed eight operational department heads and successfully opened five campuses. Before his time at Great Hearts, he served as the Regional Director of Operations at IDEA Public Schools in San Antonio, managing new school launches, facilities, childhood nutrition programs, enrollment, attendance, health services, student information systems, and beginning-of-year readiness. 

America Palmer is the Director of Academic Policy and Process and Director of Events at BASIS.ed Texas. In 2016, America Palmer joined the BASIS Charter Schools family as the Dean of Students at BASIS San Antonio Primary—Medical Center Campus. As Dean, Mrs. Palmer developed and implemented a successful academic support program and peer tutoring program, partnered with teachers to manage discipline and structure in the classroom, and planned various events to build school culture and community. The following school year, as Director of Student Affairs, Mrs. Palmer opened a BASIS primary school, focused on creating a positive environment for staff and students, conducted teacher observations, and orchestrated professional development workshops for teachers. In 2017, Mrs. Palmer became the Head of School at BASIS San Antonio Primary—North Central campus where she gave teachers the autonomy, support, and professional respect to provide an exceptional education. Currently, Mrs. Palmer is the Director of Academic Policy and Process, as well as the Director of Events at the central office for BASIS.ed Texas. In her dual roles she supports all BASIS Texas Charter Schools through district-wide initiatives, training sessions, and special projects.

Read More About BASIS Schools

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