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IDEA Vows to Open Its Own Charter School in Austin

Nathan Bernier, KUT News  

IDEA Public Schools says it will continue to operate in Austin, even after the Austin school board voted last night to cancel its contract with the charter school company.   

“This is certainly the most complex and intricate partnership with a district that we or really almost any charter school in the state of Texas has tried," IDEA founder and CEO Tom Torkelson said outside the IDEA Allan campus this morning. "Hopefully, this won’t stop the school district or other charters in the future from continuing to find great ways to partner and work together.”   

IDEA says it will announce the location of its new campus in January or February. Torkelson would not say whether it will be in East Austin, where the IDEA Allan campus is located, but he did say the location "would be very accessible to the students and families who attend" the Allan campus. 

Relations between IDEA and AISD board members did not appear to be improving, prior to last night's vote that end their year-long relationship.

Torkelson suggested in a conference call last week that a vote to cancel its contract would show the Austin school board to be "the most knee-jerk reactionary board in the nation,” the Austin American-Statesman reported

During last night's board meeting, Trustee Jayme Mathias – the board member who led the charge to cancel the contract – alluded to Torkelson's comment, saying IDEA was "talking smack" about the school board.

But the IDEA founder was unwilling to comment on the back-and-forth during his news conference today.

"I just think it's really at this point more productive to talk about a path forward," Torkelson said. "It's water under the bridge now."

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion-dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on X @KUTnathan.
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