The Eagle Charter school officials outline campus' mission to emphasize language, service and le
A new charter school, set to open for the 2018-2019 school year, sets its goals on language, leadership, service and physical fitness.
International Leadership of Texas -- ILTexas -- will open its 17th campus in College Station in August, and had its final informational meeting Thursday at the Brazos Center. Around 100 interested parents attended the meeting to ask questions of school officials.
Among the topics discussed was Spanish and Mandarin Chinese taught along with English at the free public charter school and an emphasis on service.
Students in 31 Brazos Valley school districts are eligible to apply for a spot in the school. As a free public charter school, the school does not screen or turn away students. It offers special education and other programs just like other traditional public school districts.
"If there is a seat open, and you apply for it after the lottery, if there is a seat available, the seat is yours," Eddie Conger, ILTexas founder and superintendent, said.
The languages are taught with 45 percent of time spent on English, 45 percent spent on Spanish with the final 10 percent spent on Mandarin Chinese.
Students in kindergarten and first grade will have half of their classes taught in Spanish and the other half in English. The language of each of those subjects will flip each day continuing the content where the previous day's lessons left off, similarly to other dual language programs.
For second through fifth grades, the languages of the classes are flipped each week instead of each day.
Then, in middle school, students take more traditional language classes in which it is not other content but just the language itself being taught in the class. Each student will be placed in these classes based on their proficiency in reading, writing, speaking and listening. With this system, a student could progress more quickly in Spanish than in Mandarin and the level of their language classes might not necessarily correspond to their grade level.
In addition to the language component, each year students participate in a service project chosen from student-submitted ideas and take part in athletic conditioning physical fitness.
One of the most important aspects of the charter district, though, is the motto of "Others Before Self," Conger, who graduated from Texas A&M, said.
Each grade chooses a service project to complete with groups of four selecting a project from four ideas. Then, the class chooses the group project they like best and the classes present their ideas for a grade-level project.
Although the school is currently enrolling students from kindergarten through eighth grade, the campus will add grade levels each year until it reaches 12th grade.
The College Station campus will have the capacity to serve 1,416 students. Kindergarten through second grade has its own capacity levels at 160 students, while third through eighth grades can have up to 156 students.
Siblings of students who are accepted into the school are put on the top of the list to allow them to attend school together, and once students are enrolled, they do not have to go through the lottery or application process again.
As of this week, ILTexas-College Station Principal Heather McMahan said, kindergarten is full and they are taking names to be placed on the wait list.
Conger expects to have between 1,000 to 1,200 students enrolled at the campus by the first day of school on Aug. 16.
Classes are kept to teacher-to-student ratios of 1-to-20 and 1-to-26 in kindergarten through second grade and third through eighth grades, respectively McMahan said.
McMahan, a fellow Aggie, was drawn to the district by the mission, but she first heard about ILTexas from a friend whose child attended one of the Dallas campuses.
"They're opening a school that revolves around servant leadership in the middle of College Station. What a no-brainer because as an Aggie, that's what you learn. I learned at A&M what it meant to be a part of something bigger than myself. That is what we are teaching our children every single grade from kindergarten through 12th grade," she said.
Conger noted the ILTexas school district is the largest in the country teaching students Mandarin Chinese and the only charter school in the country that offers a Marine Corps Junior ROTC program.
The school will offer opportunities for students to participate in sports -- basketball, soccer, cross country, track, baseball, softball, flag football (boys) and volleyball (girls) -- beginning in sixth grade and fine arts -- band, orchestra, choir and art. The school does not compete in UIL, but in a charter league.
As a free public charter school, the school is publicly funded in the same way as typical public school districts based on enrollment, average daily attendance and weighted average daily attendance. Each of the data points used to determine funding is reported every six weeks. The difference is the charter district's campuses are not concentrated in one area with locations in the Houston and Dallas areas. ILTexas' average funding is typically about $2,000 lower than that of traditional public school systems, Conger said.
Just as any other public school student, those attending ILTexas will still have to take the state-mandated STAAR test and the schools and district are held to the same standards as other districts.
Charter schools have a three-strike rule, though, Conger said, noting the charter is revoked if a district does not meet the academic or financial standard three years in a row.
The school puts together three trips for students: a five-day Texas history trip in seventh grade, a two-week U.S. history tour in eighth grade and a 30-day trip to China for 30 students.
"It's incredible for the kids to be able to get away and to actually see more of the world. Those eighth graders will see more of American history than most Americans will ever see in their entire life," Conger said.
Although the trips are sponsored by the school, they are not funded by the school. Each student who wants to take part in the trips must pay in order to travel.