Despite major push-back, a failing San Antonio ISD elementary school will soon open its doors in about a month as a charter school.
The Democracy Prep takeover at Stewart was approved by the school board in March. During these months, staff has been meeting with critics.
Leaders with Democracy Prep Stewart said that the transition will be challenging. But they're confident that with a new team and higher expectations that this school will get on the right track.
Founding Democracy Prep Stewart Principal Virginia Silva is taking on a big task.
"There is going to be an increase in academic expectation on campus, and that is something we won't negotiate,” she said. “We have to create a college-growing culture, and to do that, the bar has to be raised."
The New York-based program has to get Stewart Elementary to meet Texas Education Agency standards, something it hasn't done in years. Executive Director Jeremy Jones said that it is going to be challenging.
"And we are not going to shy away from that challenge, but we are ready to do it," he said.
From the start, the San Antonio Alliance of Teachers and Support Personnel was against the move. They don't believe Democracy Prep is a good fit and believe that the school is just being turned over to a New York charter company with no ties the community.
Talent and partnership with the community is what Democracy Prep believes will be the keys to success for Stewart.
“Democracy Prep really does have a strong curricular base that our students are going to benefit from," Principal Silva said. "I think we can learn from successes of other schools around the country, but we are committed to making this school great in the San Antonio context."
Only two teachers who were teaching at Stewart before will be teaching with Democracy Prep, which is its first campus in Texas. Staff will continue to meet with parents in the community ahead of the first day of class on August 13.