ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Could you imagine an Abilene ISD campus becoming an all-boys or all-girls school, or even a charter school? That could potentially happen as soon as the 2024-2025 school year because of a new program called “System of Great Schools.”
The district applied for this program as a way to ask for help, because it is not where it needs to be academically.
“If we just continue to get the results that we’ve gotten at this point, we’re going to be forced to adjust on somebody else’s terms,” said Superintendent Dr. David Young.
In fact, the district has been struggling for the past few years academically, Supt. Dr. Young expanded, “There are some areas that they are below the state average in their accountability system.”
While AISD’s executive director of Innovation and Program Development, Dr. Karen Munoz suggested there is no one reason to place blame, she said a main factor could be the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We hate to continue to say it, but COVID changed the way kids and families participated in school,” Dr. Munoz reasoned.
Because what Abilene ISD’s educators have been doing post-COVID has not worked, Dr. Young said the district is having to raise its hand and ask for help. He did so by joining the System of Great Schools program by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and partnering with MAYA Consulting.
This program focuses on making changes and improvements at the campus level instead of the district level. Some schools that have taken part of this program in Texas have turned into charter schools, all-boy schools, all-girl schools, or even STEM schools at elementary levels. A couple of close districts that have made major changes like these are Midland and Lubbock ISDs.
“Part of the Systems of Great Schools is to keep our minds open to any possibility that could be out there for AISD,” explained Dr. Munoz.
The school will receive data from the TEA at the end of September about its current ratings, and the district will also collect its own data about how the school operates. On top of analyzing these statistics, community input will be collected via surveys. These surveys will be sent out to communities, businesses, and parents around each campus.
After this phase, the district is expected to set up a goal and come up with a plan by December. The new goal will be fully implemented by August of 2024.
Next school year, the district will start the process over again. Abilene ISD said it has entered a 4-year commitment to this program.
Abilene ISD school board member Angie Wiley said the Systems of Great Schools program is a must for the school because of some of its low ratings.
“We have a responsibility to our city to provide great education,” Wiley declared.
While Dr. Munoz said she does not know what this will mean for the future of AISD, she added, “Fear is temporary and regret is forever, and I don’t want to live in regret not being able to do what is best for the kids in Abilene ISD.”
Abilene ISD is one of 22 districts in Texas that are involved in this program, and that covers 25 schools.
Dr. Munoz assured that no teachers will be laid off during this process, and no matter what happens, every student will have a place to learn.