A lesson on Kingsland School (and charter schools in general)

EDITOR DANIEL CLIFTON

Kingsland School student Preslie Watson works on her reading in Jan Woods’s kindergarten class. The charter school students have access to much of the same technology their traditional public school counterparts have. The Kingsland School, which opened in August 2016, must follow state and Texas Education Agency rules and guidelines. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

Kingsland School student Preslie Watson works on her reading in Jan Woods’s kindergarten class. The charter school students have access to much of the same technology their traditional public school counterparts have. The Kingsland School, which opened in August 2016, must follow state and Texas Education Agency rules and guidelines. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

KINGSLAND — Though Kingsland School basically doubled in size from last year to this year, Principal Meloni Puishes still works to get the word out about the public charter school as well as educate people on what exactly it is.

“A charter school is a public school, so we follow state guidelines,” Puishes said. “And Orenda (the charter school operator) only hires licensed teachers who meet the highest qualifications.”

The school opened in August 2016 for kindergarten through sixth grade before adding seventh grade this year. The campus also saw its student enrollment jump to 151 this year. They are adding eighth grade next year.

With open enrollment ending Jan. 31, Puishes said parents still have time to explore the charter school option and submit an enrollment application.

One of the big misnomers about Kingsland School, and charter schools, is it’s a private school and parents must pay tuition for their children to attend. Puishes said the campus is a public school, and there is no tuition.

“We don’t take local taxes,” she said. “The funding comes from the state and federal governments.”

Kingsland School students, staff, and families are celebrating National School Choice Week from Jan. 21-27 as a way to spread the word about the campus, located at 136 Real St. in Kingsland. During an open house Jan. 17, the faculty and students showcased their campus with the community.

As a public school, it falls under the rules and regulations set by the state and the Texas Education Agency. But because of its size, Puishes said the campus has flexibility when it comes to the curriculum and how it’s taught and presented.

“If something isn’t working, we can change it rather quickly or flex between things that are,” she said. “That’s not something a larger district or school can always do.”

The campus has a family feel to it, the principal pointed out. Many of the parents know each other, and volunteer at the campus. If someone is sick or out, staff and parents check up on them, even running into Austin to see a hospitalized student.

“I think that’s one of the advantages to being a small campus,” Puishes pointed out.

Some people might think there are disadvantages as well, such as a lack of technology or similar items. But Kingsland School assigns each student above kindergarten a laptop, and kindergarteners have iPads. These, Puishes explained, support and augment the students’ education.

As a public school, Kingsland School also offers the complete spectrum of special-needs services.

“A lot of people don’t know that, but we do,” the principal said.

While parents have options these days when it comes to their children’s education, Puishes said it’s really not about the size of school or the type but what’s happening inside and what’s best for each student.

There’s not one broad answer because some students might excel in and need what a traditional public school offers, while other families are drawn to a private school setting, and some might prefer the charter school option.

“There’s a place for everyone here,” Puishes said about Kingsland School. “Everyone fits in.”

Go to kingslandschooltx.org for more information or to apply. Call (325) 388-0020 to speak with someone at the school.

daniel@thepicayune.com

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