Emphasizing its “old fashioned approach to education” and extreme focus on college prep, IDEA Public Schools officially began construction of its second Edinburg campus last week.
IDEA held a groundbreaking for its newest campus to be located in north Edinburg on Nov. 18. In attendance were staff of the Edinburg Chamber as well as representatives from Wilson Construction, the firm in charge of completing the facility in time for the 2011-2012 school year.
The campus will be located adjacent to the new Edinburg Boys and Girls Club facility, which is also under construction.
Once the school is completed, the campus will accommodate grades K-2, and 6. New grade levels will be added every year, according to school officials. The school’s completion next fall will be IDEA’s 20th in the region.
There are currently 16 campuses Valleywide, and at least six more, for a total of 22 are scheduled to open by 2012.
“In this community in Edinburg, there are 3,000 students on our waiting list,” said IDEA CEO and founder Tom Torkelson, about the apparent demand for another campus in the area. “Thousands of families now get a shot before we select those students so they have a chance at a world-class education.”
IDEA is a system of tuition-free public charter schools with a focus on college readiness, according to Torkelson. There are currently 6,500 students enrolled in campuses from Mission to Brownsville, and about 75 percent of students are low income.
According to Torkelson, every single IDEA graduate has entered into a four-year college or university; 96 percent of those remain enrolled in college.
“In the Valley, only 13 percent of adults over 25 have a college degree (and) one in eight starting at UTPA will graduate,” Torkelson said. “Our public schools have to do a better job.
“Our old fashioned approach of discipline, and high expectations focusing on reading writing and math is a formula for success,” he said.