District Sets Successful School Choice Example

    PROFILES IN PUBLIC SCHOOL CHOICE

    This is the first in a series of stories highlighting ways school districts in Texas are increasingly offering students options in public education.

    Grand Prairie ISD

    Texas public school districts face consistent criticism by proponents of school choice, for not offering students and parents more options. However, many school districts currently offer families multiple school options, and recent legislation provides districts with more tools for innovation and heightened autonomy to increase choice in and among public schools, while preserving accountability, transparency, and local control. Public schools now also are in a position to provide students more personalized curriculum and college and career pathways to graduation. We decided to visit and profile some of the districts and campuses embracing public school choice and those working to expand the options available to Texas students. In this first installment of our series, we take a look at Grand Prairie ISD, and how they’re turning public school into a rich, personal experience for each student.

    Grand Prairie ISD Fast Facts

    • Pre-K – 12
    • 29,000 students
    • Open enrollment district
    • Nearly half of the schools in Grand Prairie are schools of choice.

    Grand Prairie ISD: A Model of District Innovation & Public School Choice

    What kid wakes up on a weekend morning raring to head to school?

    In the Grand Prairie area, at least once a year, thousands do. Their parents, too – entire families rise early on a Saturday to converge on a campus-turned-community square.

    Why?

    To apply for a chance of entry into one of Grand Prairie ISD’s nearly 20 open-enrollment, public schools of choice.

    The district has come to call it, simply, The GPISD Experience.

    Think academic open house with a festival feel. Families meet one-on-one with school teachers, principals, and administrators. They view student galleries, exhibits, and demonstrations. The GPISD Experience has evolved to include food trucks, a petting zoo, live performances – even an NFL football tv-watching zone.

    But the primary goal is to give every family an opportunity to learn about the many educational programs and options available – free of charge – within the Grand Prairie public school district.

    Dr. Susan Hull – a third-generation school educator – is the superintendent of Grand Prairie ISD. She rides a Harley and exudes an engaging brand of Texas brash and bravado, which likely helped her spearhead the district transformation from one that a few years ago, after a $15 million revenue loss, was struggling to keep campuses open, to the thriving, 29,000-student strong district that exists today. Hull is driven by a passion for busting boundaries. And she says other public school leaders can follow suit by asking themselves what kinds of choices do they want to make available to their students?

    “A parent has a right to choose to home-school, and a parent has a right to pay $40,000 a year in tuition,” Hull said. “But every parent can’t, so as a public school superintendent, I have an obligation to give every parent an opportunity to exercise their right to make a choice for their child – a choice that’s best for their child, and a choice that they want to be vested in.”

    Read more about The GPISD Experience.

    “We realized after homeschooling for a few years that it really wasn’t the right fit for my family. We needed something a little more rigorous with more of a push – something to provoke a drive. Dubiski just seemed like a perfect fit for that.”
    Rebekah Conant
    Junior, Dubiski Career High School
    Rebekah Conant copy

    Grand Prairie Schools (and Programs) of Choice

    2009

    • Dubiski Career High School

     

    2010

    • Garner Fine Arts Academy

     

    2012-2013

    • Young Men’s Leadership Academy at John F. Kennedy Middle School
    • Young Women’s Leadership Academy at Bill Arnold Middle School
    • David Daniels Elementary Academy of Science and Math
    • Marshall Leadership Academy at Whitt Fine Arts Academy
    • The Fine Arts Academy at Grand Prairie 9th Grade Center
    • The Fine Arts Academy at Reagan Middle School
    • The Center for Sports Medicine/Health Science at South Grand Prairie HS
    • The Center for Sports Medicine/Health Science at South Grand Prairie 9th Grade Center

    2013-2014

    • Grand Prairie Fine Arts Academy (grades 6-12)
    • Grand Prairie Collegiate Institute, an in-District charter school (grades 6-12)
    • HOPE Academy (grades 7-8)
    • Lorenzo de Zavala School of Environmental Science
    • Ellen Ochoa STEM Academy at Ben Milam Elementary
    • YWLA begins serving students in grades 9-12 Schools of Choice opened in 2014-2015
    • Andrew Jackson Environmental Science Middle School
    • Barbara Bush Global Leadership Academy
    • School for the Highly Gifted

     

    2015-2016

    • World Language Academy at Travis Elementary
    • GPISD Uplift at Lee Elementary
    • Crockett Early Education Center
    • Junior Cadet Corps at Adams MS
    • Sports Medicine at Grand Prairie HS
    • Government and Public Administration at Grand Prairie HS
    • Firefighter at Grand Prairie HS
    • School of Environmental Science and Technology at South Grand Prairie HS
    • Landscape Design at South Grand Prairie HS

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