With a waiting list of thousands and a long list of academic success stories, an Irving-based charter school program has announced plans to expand into Fort Worth, Texas next year.
Uplift Education, which already has schools in Dallas, Irving and Arlington, received one of the first charters granted by the state of Texas in 1996. The group opened its first campus the following year and since has grown to 20 schools -- including five high schools -- with 5,700 students.
Uplift's five-year strategic plan calls for opening two to four new schools annually to serve 13,000 students by the 2015-16 academic year. Four of those sites are planned for Fort Worth, and Uplift Education officials say they are focusing on the southeast side of town for possible locations.
Two elementary schools and a middle school (to be located temporarily on one of the elementary campuses) are expected to open next year, officials said. They plan a high school to begin operating in 2014, with the middle school then housed at that campus.
Under Texas' charter system, private entities and nonprofit groups run about 400 schools using public money. Students must meet the same academic standards as in regular public schools, but charters have fewer operating constraints. The growth of these educational facilities does offer families a choice, especially in areas where some believe the traditional public school system has failed them.