Charter schools get green light for Texoma

Staff Writer
Herald Democrat
A student is pictured here working at one of Responsive Education Solutions' existing schools. The organization recently received approval for two Texoma schools from the Texas Education Agency.

A pair of charter schools have been given approval to open their doors in Texoma. Representatives with Responsive Education Solutions announced this week that they have received approval from the Texas Education Agency for a campus in Whitewrightby and another in Sherman-Denison.

The approval comes one year after the charter school was denied by the TEA amid opposition from area school districts.

“We are honored and excited to join local public school leaders in Denison, Sherman and Whitewright to provide quality public school choices to children in the Texoma region,” ResponsiveEd Chief Education Architect Alan Wimberley said. “As our name suggests, ResponsiveEd was founded 20 years ago on the idea that public schools should be responsive to the communities they serve and our decision to provide that in Grayson County is no different.

“The community support for public schools of choice has been overwhelming and we look forward to working with local leaders as we do in communities across the state.”

Wimberley, who moved to Denison a few years ago, said the company, which operates many similar schools including two in Prosper and Frisco, said this will be the company’s first venture into Grayson County.

Since moving to Denison, Wimberley said he has been approached by young families who asked if he would open a school here in Texoma. At first he was hesitant to open one this close to home but eventually warmed to the idea of a campus in Sherman-Denison.

The two proposed schools, which would be tuition-free, would be focused on what Wimberley described as a classical education. Rather than focusing primarily on college preparation, he said the schools would provide lessons aimed at moral virtue and character development.

“There is a way to teach classic education that is different that the normal or traditional model,” Wimberley said. “Classical education was never called classical education in centuries past. To them, it was just education.”

In 2019, ResponsiveEd moved forward with plans to open a school in Texoma, with support from more than 200 families but met local opposition from area school districts who opposed the idea citing concerns about transparency.

“We’re not against competition or private schools,” Sherman Independent School District Superintendent David Hicks said in 2019. “We are about a fair and equitable system for our kids. We are about transparency for our communities. We want to know where our resources are going at the state level.”

For the first time in its 21 year history, the company was denied permission by the TEA. This led organizers to reconsider and rethink the school. At the same time, Wimberley was introduced to organizers for a prospective school that would be based out of King’s Trail Church in Whitewright.

Following discussions between organizers, the Whitewright group decided to join together under the ResponsiveEd banner.

Last week, the schools received word that they have been approved by the TEA. Wimberley noted that the applications were mostly the same over the two attempts, and he attributed the success to advocacy from parents.

“The applications were exactly the same,” he said. “I told parents that if they wanted this school you would have to get involved.“

The first focus will likely be the Whitewright school as it already has a location determined. As this school moves forward in development, Wimberley said representatives would continue to look for a site in Sherman or Denison.

It may be possible to partner with an area church, but Wimberley said the company is still exploring other real estate options.

“We’ve put them in churches before because those churches sit empty for much of the week,” he said.

Initially, the schools would focus on kindergarten through eighth grade-aged students, but Wimberley said there are plans to expand gradually into high school levels in the future.

Current plans call for an August 2021 opening of the Sherman campus.