Get to Know Royal Public Schools, Coming to Southside San Antonio in 2021

child working on robotic hand

Families on the Southside of San Antonio, a historically under-resourced area, may soon have the opportunity to choose to enroll their children in Royal Public Schools, a proposed K–12 charter school network. The school model, dubbed STREAMS-360, proposes to lift the achievement of students through a whole-child approach, including STEM education, arts, social emotional learning, and project-based learning. Once Royal Public Schools completes its charter application approval process, the first campus would open in 2021 for grades K–2, expanding to K–12.

UPDATE: On September 11, 2020, the Texas State Board of Education voted to affirm the commissioner’s recommendation. Royal Public Schools is coming to San Antonio in 2021!

STREAMS-360 Model

Royal Public Schools will use STREAMS-360, a next generation learning model that will enable students to achieve at the highest levels. The founder and CEO, Dr. Soner Tarim, is also the founder and former CEO of Harmony Public Schools, which is renowned for its STEM education model. STREAMS-360 will go further, integrating science, technology, reading, engineering, arts, and math.

Based on decades of experience, the leaders at Royal Public Schools have identified the areas that they will concentrate on: rigorous curriculum and instruction; assessment and academic progress monitoring; addressing the needs of special populations; highly effective teacher development; social and emotional learning; college, career and military readiness; extracurricular activities and enrichment; parent engagement, and classroom management through clear protocols and procedures. They will work to refine these areas though continuous improvement.

The STREAMS-360 model will also support students with social emotional learning through project-based learning. The Royal Block is a daily, 90–minute period of personalized learning for each student. These academic strategies, combined with a school culture focused on mutual respect, kindness, high expectations, and leadership presence, are designed to bring high levels of achievement to a historically low-income area, where many school campuses are currently low performing.

Royal Public Schools at School Discovery Day at PicaPica Plaza January 2020

Royal Public Schools at School Discovery Day at PicaPica Plaza

Geographic Location and Growth Plan

Royal Public Schools has applied for a charter to open a cluster of four schools on the Southside of San Antonio, an area that has a pattern of low-performing traditional public schools.

The target area for Royal Public Schools’ campuses includes Harlandale ISD, South San Antonio ISD, and Southside ISD. All five SISD schools serving students in Early Elementary through grade 5, including Gallardo Elementary, earned an F rating in the state accountability system for the 2019-20 academic year. The student population is predominantly low-income. The enrollment area—where students can live and apply to Royal Public Schools—covers Bexar County and a few adjacent districts to the south.

The STREAMS-360 model is designed to lift up students from underserved communities. The school model adapts to accommodate students entering with challenges—including special needs, low English language proficiency, and lack of academic preparation—by identifying gaps and closing them quickly. Social emotional learning is built into the curriculum and will support students with techniques to manage the stresses of poverty.

The plan is to open the first Royal Public Schools campus in August 2021 with grades K, 1, and 2, growing by a grade level per year. When fully built, the cluster will serve students in grades K–12 at two elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school, serving approximately 2,300 students. This plan depends on approval of their charter application.

Families signing up for the charter school interest list at Royal Public Schools kiosk at PicaPica Plaza

Families signing up for the interest list at the Royal Public Schools kiosk at PicaPica Plaza

Charter Application

The Commissioner of Education, Mike Morath, has recommended that the State Board of Education (SBOE) approve Royal Public Schools’ charter application.

During its September 8–11 meeting, the SBOE will vote on the current set of charter applications. The SBOE will also hear public comments from community members speaking in support or opposition. These sessions are being held virtually, and community members will comment by video or phone.

In 2019, Royal Public Schools faced opposition from traditional public school districts in Austin that did not want nearby competition, and the State Board of Education voted to deny its charter application.

The board of Royal Public Schools includes several members with strong ties to the Southside of San Antonio. Board member Dr. Abelardo Saavedra is the former superintendent of South San Antonio ISD. Advisory board member Rebecca C. Cervantez is the retired CEO of AVANCE San Antonio and led AVANCE in the Head Start partnership with Harlandale ISD. Another advisory board member, Rita Abbenante, is also a board member of the South San Antonio Chamber of Commerce.

At the Royal Public Schools website, families can register for the interest list to get notified about the school opening, as well as outreach programs like robotics camps. For updates about the progress of their charter application and information about how to get involved, please join the San Antonio Charter Moms discussion group on Facebook.

Royal Public Schools logo

Charter Moms Chats

Learn more about Royal Public Schools, the STREAMS-360 model, their connections to the Southside of San Antonio, and the charter application process in this interview with Inga Cotton on Charter Moms Chats.

Charter Moms Chats guests:

Soner Tarim, lead organizer of Royal Public Schools. He is the founder and former CEO of Harmony Public Schools and has been an educational advocate for underserved communities for more than 30 years. He was the first principal at Harmony Houston, serving 200 students. Under his leadership, Harmony grew to serve nearly 34,000 students at 54 campuses throughout Texas. He has decades of experience in developing innovative educational programs for K-12 schools for the Harmony group of schools, including nationally-recognized STEM programs. Under his leadership, Harmony earned the reputation as one of the best charter school organizations in the country (Broad Prize Finalist 2017). Many Harmony campuses have been recognized as top schools in the United States. Dr. Tarim received the Charter School Leader of the Year Award at the annual charter school conference in October 2017. He is currently a Broad Academy Fellow. The Broad Academy brings together passionate and renowned leaders who are dedicated to transforming school systems so that every student receives a world-class public education. He has also completed a yearlong Pahara-Aspen Institute Education Fellowship. Dr. Tarim holds a PhD from Texas A&M University.

Abelardo Saavedra, Professor, Texas A&M University and former Superintendent of Houston and South San Antonio ISDs. From his start as a classroom teacher, Dr. Saavedra has worked to improve opportunities and outcomes for students in Texas. He is currently a Professor of Practice at Texas A&M University. He has served as the Superintendent of South San Antonio, Corpus Christi, and Houston Independent School Districts. He received national attention for leading Houston ISD, which made impressive gains in student achievement and school improvement during his tenure. In addition to his teaching duties, Dr. Saavedra consults for various public entities, non-profits and private sector companies. Dr. Saavedra holds a PhD in School Administration from the University of Michigan and an MS from Texas A&M University.

Benjamin Warren, Owner, ITC Trading Co. Mr. Warren has served as the CEO of the ITC Trading Company Limited for over twenty years. As a successful entrepreneur in the food business, Benjamin has built, managed, and sold leading food businesses with extensive operations across the United States including Coleman Natural Foods, Swift & Company, and FoodBrands America, Inc. Mr. Warren has been an active volunteer and supporter of Cristo Rey Houston College Preparatory Academy and a board member of KIPP Houston Public Schools, the Holocaust Museum Houston, the Houston Jewish Community Foundation, the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston, and the Leo Baeck Education Center Foundation, which founded Israel’s KIPP Inspired Network of Schools.

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