IDEA Public Schools is one of the largest and most visible charter school networks in the San Antonio area. On September 1, 2023, IDEA Public Schools campuses began accepting applications for enrollment for the 2024–25 school year. The lottery will be on February 18, 2024. In addition, there are open seats at some campuses and grade levels for the current school year. We have put together a guide to help you learn more about IDEA Public Schools and take steps to enroll your child for the next school year.
About IDEA Public Schools
Founded in 2000, IDEA Public Schools is focused on helping children from underserved communities to get ready for college. In 2021, the student population was over 88 percent economically disadvantaged, and over 34 percent of students were English language learners. IDEA Public Schools’ mission is to help prepare every student to go to and through college. Several well-established IDEA Public Schools college prep campuses appear in national rankings of high schools, including US News & World Report and the Jay Mathews Challenge Index. Over the last 16 years, IDEA has sent nearly 100 percent of its graduates to college and remains on track to uphold that legacy.
As students return to campuses for the 2023–24 school year, IDEA Public Schools is emphasizing campus safety and security. All staff have received safety training to follow IDEA’s Standard Response Protocol. In addition, all IDEA campuses are closed campuses to ensure only students, staff, parents and authorized visitors are allowed on campus.
IDEA Public Schools continues its traditions for events that celebrate learning, including College Signing Day ceremonies when students announce to classmates, friends, and family where they are going to college. For the 2022–23 school year, the IDEA San Antonio Class of 2023 racked up over 2,000 college acceptances and over $70 million in scholarships and grants. Of the senior class, 77 percent are first generation students to attend college.
Young students who meet ambitious reading goals can attend parties for Royal Readers.
The College Prep curriculum includes Advanced Placement (AP) courses to help students prepare for college and earn credits to help them finish their degrees sooner. As of 2022, 30 percent of graduating seniors at IDEA Public Schools are AP Scholars, which exceeds the national average.
For more information about recent events at IDEA Public 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 IDEA Public Schools families who can comment with answers about their own experiences.
IDEA Public Schools in San Antonio
In 2024–25, IDEA Public Schools will have 30 schools on 15 campuses in the San Antonio region. On its most recent school report card, the district earned a B rating; the list below includes links to school report cards.
- IDEA Brackenridge: 5555 Old Pearsall Rd., San Antonio, TX 78242 (map); 210-239-4300; grades K–12; Academy school report card—rated B & College Prep school report card—rated B
- IDEA Burke: 10434 Marbach Rd., San Antonio, TX 78245 (map); 210-239-4650; grades K–11 in 2023–24, expanding to K–12; Academy school report card—rated A & College Prep school report card—rated A
- IDEA Carver: 217 Robinson Pl., San Antonio, TX 78202 (map); 210-223-8885; grades K–12; Academy school report card—rated A & College Prep school report card—rated A
- IDEA Converse: 5160 FM 1516 N, Converse, TX 78109 (map); 210-529-3800; grades K–9 in 2023–24, expanding to K–12; Academy school report card—rated A & College Prep school report card—rated A
- IDEA Eastside: 2519 Martin Luther King Dr., San Antonio, TX 78203 (map); 210-239-4800; grades K–12; Academy school report card—rated B & College Prep school report card—rated B
- IDEA Ewing Halsell: 2523 W. Ansley Blvd., San Antonio, TX 78224 (map); 210-239-4850; grades K–12; Academy school report card—rated B & College Prep school report card—rated B
- IDEA Hidden Meadow: 10138 Culebra Rd., San Antonio, TX 78251 (map); 210-529-3900; grades K–9 in 2023–24, expanding to K–12; Academy school report card—not rated (no tested grades in 2021–22) & College Prep school report card—rated A
- IDEA Ingram Hills: 3115 Majestic Dr., San Antonio, TX 78228 (map); 210-529-3700; grades K–11 in 2023–24, expanding to K–12; Academy school report card—rated A & College Prep school report card—rated B
- IDEA Judson: 13427 Judson Rd., San Antonio, TX 78233 (map); 210-529-3600; grades K–12; Academy school report card—rated A & College Prep school report card—rated B
- IDEA Mays: 1210 Horal Dr., San Antonio, TX 78245 (map); 210-529-3200; grades K–12; Academy school report card—rated A & College Prep school report card—rated A
- IDEA Monterrey Park: 222 SW 39th St., San Antonio, TX 78237 (map); 210-239-4200; grades K–12; Academy school report card—rated B & College Prep school report card—rated A
- IDEA Harvey E. Najim: 926 S. WW White Rd., San Antonio, TX 78220 (map); 210-239-4900; grades K–12; Academy school report card—rated A & College Prep school report card—rated A
- IDEA Ambrose & Frida Robinson: 10170 Kriewald Road, San Antonio, TX 78245 (map); 210-239-4970; grades K–8 in 2023–24, expanding to K–12; no school report card data; formerly known as IDEA Amber Creek
- IDEA South Flores: 6919 S. Flores St., San Antonio, TX 78221 (map); 210-239-4150; grades K–12; Academy school report card—rated A & College Prep school report card—rated A
- IDEA Walzem: 6130 Walzem Rd., San Antonio, TX 78239 (map); 210-239-4600; grades K–12; Academy school report card—rated A & College Prep school report card—rated B
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 IDEA Public Schools (and many other schools of choice) on our page Guide to Charter Schools in San Antonio.
Enroll at IDEA Public Schools in San Antonio
Families can apply online to enroll their children at IDEA Public Schools. Some campuses have openings for students in some grade levels for the current school year.
In the San Antonio region, open enrollment for 2024–25 began on September 1, 2023 and will end at 11:50 PM CST on February 17, 2024. On February 18, 2024, IDEA Public Schools 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. Find more information at IDEA’s FAQs.
During application season, there will be events in the community for families to learn more about IDEA Public Schools. We recommend following local IDEA Public Schools campuses on social media.
- IDEA Public Schools on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn
- IDEA Brackenridge on Facebook and Instagram
- IDEA Burke on Facebook and Instagram
- IDEA Carver on Facebook
- IDEA Converse on Facebook and Instagram
- IDEA Eastside on Facebook and Instagram
- IDEA Ewing Halsell on Facebook and Instagram
- IDEA Hidden Meadow on Facebook and Instagram
- IDEA Ingram Hills on Facebook
- IDEA Judson on Facebook
- IDEA Mays on Facebook and Instagram
- IDEA Monterrey Park on Facebook and Instagram
- IDEA Harvey E. Najim on Facebook and Instagram
- IDEA Ambrose & Freda Robinson on Facebook and Instagram
- IDEA South Flores on Facebook
- IDEA Walzem on Facebook and Instagram
We also recommend joining the interest list for prospective IDEA Public Schools families and joining the San Antonio Charter Moms discussion group on Facebook to post questions and search previous discussions about IDEA Public Schools.
Facts about IDEA Public Schools
IDEA Public Schools has a joyful, hardworking, competitive, high-achieving culture. In turn, every campus has its own mascot, sports teams, and unique features, like the mariachi ensemble at IDEA South Flores and the farm at IDEA Monterrey Park. The schools support the health and wellness of students and their families by emphasizing healthy eating and physical education.
IDEA is an acronym for “Individuals Dedicated to Excellence and Achievement.” It was founded as a school-within-a-school in 1998 in Donna, Texas, in the Rio Grande Valley. In 2000, IDEA Public Schools applied for and became a Generation 4 charter school. Dr. Jeff Cottrill is the CEO and Superintendent of IDEA Public Schools, and Cody Grindle is the President.
IDEA Public Schools’ headquarters are still in the Rio Grande Valley, but the network has expanded in other regions of Texas—including Austin, El Paso, Tarrant County, Greater Houston, and the Permian Basin—as well as Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Tampa Bay and Jacksonville, Florida; and Cincinnati, Ohio.
Basketball legend David Robinson is on the regional board for IDEA Public Schools in San Antonio. Robinson and his wife, Valerie, founded Carver Academy as a private school in 2001, and in 2012 it became IDEA Carver—the first IDEA Public Schools campus in San Antonio. IDEA Carver College Prep is now home to a David Robinson museum. At IDEA Ambrose & Freda Robinson, their mascot—the Admirals—was chosen in Robinson’s honor.
IDEA Public Schools is a partner with 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 IDEA Public Schools, we recommend that you apply for enrollment now. You are also welcome to join the San Antonio Charter Moms discussion group to learn more and interact with current IDEA Public Schools families.
Charter Moms Chats
Ernie Cantu was born on June 20, 1970, in Caldwell, Idaho to migrant parents. He was raised in a colonia in south Pharr, Texas called Las Milpas. He graduated from Pharr-San Juan-Alamo (PSJA) high school in 1988. He joined the U.S Army soon after graduating and served his country until 1991 mostly overseas in West Germany, and during Operation Desert Shield/Storm in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Kuwait.
In 1992, he began attending the University of Texas—Pan American (UTPA) in Edinburg, Texas. He graduated in 1997 with a Bachelor of Arts in History with a minor in English. Shortly thereafter, he began teaching 7th grade English Language Arts at Alamo Middle School (PSJA) in Alamo, Texas. In 2000, he began teaching GED and ESL classes for Windham ISD at Lopez and Segovia State Jails in Edinburg, Texas.
In 2003 he began working at IDEA Public Schools as a part-time after-school and Saturday school tutor and as an adult ESL instructor. In August 2004, he transitioned fully from Windham ISD to IDEA Public Schools to teach 6th grade math at IDEA Academy in Donna, Texas. In December of 2004, he received a Master’s in Education from the University of Texas—Pan American.
Ernie worked at four IDEA campuses—Donna, Frontier (Brownsville), San Benito, and Pharr—and has been a founding staff member at three of them. During his time at IDEA Public Schools, he has been a classroom teacher, Director of New Site Development, Director of Operations/Assistant Principal of Operations, Principal at IDEA College Prep Pharr (which is located in the same colonia, Las Milpas, where he was raised), a Senior Vice President of Schools, and Executive Director of El Paso.
As Chief of Schools Officer, Ernie oversees all IDEA regions and campuses in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and Ohio, as well as the organization’s Student Support Services and Talent Development teams. He has been part of the Team & Family for nearly 20 years.
A graduate of the Educational Leadership doctoral program at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Ernie now resides in El Paso with his wife, Cindy, his daughter, Klarissa, and his son, Ernesto Emiliano.
Read More about IDEA Public Schools
- “IDEA Public Schools welcomes back students with free breakfast and lunch for the school year,” Halee Powers, KSAT, August 9, 2023
- “Our Commitment to Safety,” Jeff Cottrill, IDEA Public Schools, May 23, 2023
- “IDEA San Antonio Celebrates Its Largest College Signing Day to Date,” Victoria Nava, IDEA Public Schools, April 27, 2023
- “IDEA South Flores seventh grade science teacher named KSAT Educator of the Month,” Sarah Acosta, KSAT, December 22, 2022
- “Charter Moms Chats — IDEA Public Schools Enrollment, With Carlos Benavides,” YouTube, September 13, 2022
- “How Texas’s IDEA Public Schools Rose to the Top of National Rankings,” Tom Torkelson, 74 Million, June 7, 2022
- “IDEA names lone finalist for superintendent,” Matt Wilson, Monitor, May 10, 2022
- “Over 1,800 seniors announced their acceptance letters at IDEA public schools,” News 4 San Antonio, April 20, 2022
- “IDEA Public Schools confirms death of interim CEO,” Matt Wilson, Monitor, February 22, 2022
- “Healthy Holiday Recipes from the IDEA Public Schools Child Nutrition Program Cookbook,” San Antonio Charter Moms, December 17, 2021
- “Charter Moms Chats — IDEA Public Schools Enrollment Guide, With Lisa T. Garza,” YouTube, September 28, 2022
- “‘My story should not be the exception’: IDEA Public Schools leader strives for children to have access to good education,” Jacob Sanchez, Fort Worth Report, September 15, 2021
- “IDEA Public Schools opens new West Side campus to students,” KSAT, August 18, 2021
- “Safely Learning Together: IDEA Public Schools Students Are Back in School for 2021–22,” San Antonio Charter Moms, August 17, 2021
- “IDEA Public Schools Launched Social Emotional Learning for All Students in 20–21 School Year Through Move This World,” Business Wire, May 12, 2021
- “San Antonio Spurs legend David Robinson and chef Jason Dady team up to raise scholarship funds,” Nina Rangel, San Antonio Current, March 23, 2021
- “Making a Difference at IDEA Monterrey Park College Prep,” San Antonio Charter Moms, January 21, 2021
- “Charter Moms Chats—Enrolling at IDEA Public Schools, With JoAnn Gama,” YouTube, October 7, 2020
- “Strong Start 2020: IDEA Public Schools Back to School Plan for 2020–21,” San Antonio Charter Moms, September 8, 2020
- “IDEA charter school network facing added state scrutiny over request to expand,” Jacob Carpenter, Houston Chronicle, August 28, 2020
- “IDEA Understands That College Is the New High School — For the Texas Charter Network That Means Making It Attainable for Everyone,” Richard Whitmire, The 74, August 19, 2019
- “The Charter Effect: Enrollment Loss Hits San Antonio’s “Destination’ Districts,” Camille Phillips, Texas Public Radio, July 1, 2019
- “Change Your School, Change Your Life,” Tianna Renteria (IDEA Carver alumna), National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, June 12, 2019
- “San Antonio charter school turns farming into a classroom,” Liz Teitz, San Antonio Express-News, May 22, 2019
- “As It Closes In on 20 Years, IDEA Public Schools, Texas’s Homegrown Charter Network, Is Big, Bold and Sticking to the Basics,” Bekah McNeel, The 74, May 12, 2019
- “Kids celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week by schooling KENS 5,” Jon Coker, KENS 5, May 7, 2019
- “IDEA Carver student accepts invitation to Naval Academy, gets visit from Rep. Cuellar,” News 4 San Antonio, May 3, 2019
- “‘A School Everywhere On The Map’: IDEA’s Big Plans For San Antonio,” Camille Phillips, Texas Public Radio, May 2, 2019
- “IDEA Carver is preparing to send off their first graduating class,” Marvin Hurst, KENS 5, April 13, 2019
- “AP For All: IDEA Public Schools in San Antonio Gives All Students Access to Advanced Placement Courses,” San Antonio Charter Moms, September 18, 2017
- “IDEA Public Schools luncheon honoring David Robinson, board member and Carver Academy founder,” San Antonio Charter Moms, May 13, 2015