Friday Open Lunch Policy- Starting November 2021

Due to limited space and the safety of our students and staff, we are changing our policy for our open lunches. Please see the information below which will start in November.

Lunch Schedule

K-2nd: 10:35 AM – 11:05 AM

3rd-5th: 11:25 AM – 11: 55 AM

  • Each grade level will have a designated day for Open Lunch (once a month) with assigned dates
    • Monday – Kindergarten
    • Tuesday – 1st Grade
    • Wednesday – 2nd & 3rd Grade
    • Thursday – 4th & 5th Grade
  • Each grade level will have a maximum of 30 visitors
    • Visitors will be able to sign up using a provided sign-up genius
    • Sign up genius will be on a first come, first serve basis
  • Visitors must arrive on time otherwise they will not be allowed to enter the cafeterias
    • K-2 visitors must arrive no later than 10:40 AM
    • 3-5 visitors must arrive no later than 11:30 AM
  • Visitors must sign in using a valid driver’s license (pictures of ID cards are not allowed)
  • We strongly suggest parents arrive BEFORE the start of lunch to ensure enough time to sign in

Click here to check out what’s happening in this week’s edition of Wednesday Mail.

One of the questions we hear most from prospective parents interested in applying to Harmony Public Schools is “I’ve been looking at schools near me, but I don’t understand – what is the difference between a charter school and an ISD public school?” 

Public charter schools have grown exponentially in the past 25 years – both in Texas, and around the country – but we understand why many parents who grew up in a traditional independent school district setting themselves may still have questions.

That’s OK. We’ve got the answers to all of your biggest questions about charter schools.

So, what exactly is a charter school?

A charter school is a public school, and in many ways very similar to a traditional ISD school as you might think of one.

  • Charter schools do not charge tuition or application fees.
  • Charter schools accept every student who applies, as long as the school or grade level has not reached its enrollment capacity.
  • Charter school students take the same core classes and state tests (ex. STAAR) as ISD students. 
  • Charter schools are held to strict standards of financial and overall accountability by the Texas Education Agency.
  • Charter schools offer a full range of special services, including special education, English as a Second Language (ESL), Dyslexia, and 504. 

However, what makes charter schools different is what we believe makes them special. In a word, that difference is “choice.”

Way back in 1995, the Texas State Legislature decided that even though there were a lot of great schools in Texas, a one-size-fits-all approach to education might not work for all families. Each child is unique: some with special gifts, others with special challenges, and all with special dreams for their futures.

To help better serve every Texas student, the Texas public charter school system was created to allow independent, education-based nonprofit organizations called Charter Management Organizations (CMOs) to open and operate free public schools for Texas students with the promise that they would provide a new school choice in education for local Texas families.

For some charter schools, that new choice might be a curriculum that focuses on dual-language learning. For others, it might be helping students who have dropped out of the traditional school setting reclaim their path to graduation.

At Harmony Public Schools, we specialize in hands-on, project-based learning with a heavy emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), as well as advanced college preparedness and character education.


DID YOU KNOW?

Of the roughly 100 schools in Texas certified as official Texas STEM Academies be the Texas Education Agency, 23 are Harmony Public Schools high schools – more than any other school system in Texas!

Thirteen Harmony high schools have also been named among the Best STEM High Schools in the U.S. by Newsweek.


 

Who can attend a charter school?

As long as a student lives within its geographic boundaries of the school, any child can attend a Texas public charter school. However, unlike traditional ISD schools where students usually must attend whichever nearby campus they are “zoned” to, public charter school geographic boundaries are generally very large – often covering multiple communities or counties. These large geographic boundaries are another way Texas public charter schools offer Texas families a choice in their student’s education, and are unique from traditional ISDs. For example, rather than sending their child to an ISD campus near their home address, a parent may prefer for their child to attend a school near a grandparent’s home, or the parent’s place of work. Or they may prefer to send their child to a campus that specializes in a specific curriculum, like STEM, or with a higher TEA accountability rating than their neighborhood ISD school. All of these are options with Texas public charter schools.

Do public charter schools charge tuition?

Texas public charter schools are free to attend. Applying to a Texas public charter school is also free.

How do charter schools choose who gets to attend?

They don’t. Charter school students are never “cherry picked” from an applicant pool. Any student who applies to attend a charter school will be accepted, so long as they meet three basic criteria:

  1. They live within the schools geographic boundaries;
  2. They are applying to a grade taught by that specific school;
  3. Available seats are open in the grade-level to which the family is applying. At Harmony, if more students apply than there are available openings, the campus will hold a “blind” lottery to ensure fair an equal opportunity for enrollment to all new applicants.

RELATED: Learn more about Harmony Public School’s application, enrollment and lottery processes

When and how can a student apply to a charter school?

A student can apply to a charter school at any time during the school year and be accepted if space is available. However, most Texas public charter schools also offer an open enrollment period each year specifically for prospective new students. During this time, families can learn more about their charter school options and enter their name for the enrollment lottery, which is held in the event there are more applicants than available seats. For Harmony Public Schools, open enrollment runs each November 1 through February 10. 

MORE INFO: Learn more about how to apply to Harmony Public Schools.

How is a charter school funded?

As opposed to a traditional ISD school, which receives its funding primarily from the taxes local homeowners pay each year combined with additional funding from the state, charter schools receive their primary funding from the state and federal governments. Additionally, charters often receive both public and private grants to fund many of their innovative academic programs. For example, in recent years Harmony Public Schools has received grants of varying amounts from the U.S. Department of Education, the Texas Education Agency, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, and the Elon Musk Foundation, among others.

Are Texas public charter schools for-profit?

No. By law, Texas public charter schools must be nonprofit entities. All funds received are used in the service of our students and school teams.

Do charter schools require uniforms?

That’s a decision that’s up to each charter school. At Harmony Public Schools, we do have a uniform policy. (Our students do get regular “free dress” days, though.)

Do charter schools offer the same types of programs and extracurricular activities as ISD schools?

Charter schools offer almost all of the same programs and extracurricular activities as ISD schools, though just like at an ISD school, the exact selection of extracurricular opportunities varies from campus-to-campus. Traditionally, charter schools specialize in offering a wide variety of academic-focused extracurriculars. For example, at Harmony Public Schools, some of our most popular extracurricular activities are our groundbreaking eSports clubs, LEGO robotics, rocketry, computer coding, and biomedicine. Our schools also compete in a wide variety of sports, including basketball, volleyball, soccer, and football. 

What level accountability do charter schools have to maintain?

Just like traditional ISDs, Texas charter schools must remain in good academic and financial accountability with the Texas Education Agency. That includes annual inclusion in the TEA’s Financial Integrity System of Texas (FIRST) and Overall Accountability ratings. Charter schools that do not meet these standards face closure by the TEA. Finally, to help families easily understand how their charter school is performing, the TEA has created a Charter School Performance Framework (CSPF), which grades charter districts on overall academic performance and closing achievement gaps.

What other differences are there between charter schools and traditional ISD schools?

There are a few other differences between Texas public charter schools and ISDs, but most don’t impact the day-to-day campus life of our students. For example, charter school boards consist of appointed volunteers with a unique interest in education, rather than private individuals who have chosen to run for election. However, charter school board meetings are still open to the public to attend and participate.

What about …?

We couldn’t possibly share all the things that make charter schools a unique and important part of the Texas educational environment in just one article. So if you have more questions, we’d love the opportunity to tell you more. Just tell us what you want to know in our Let’s Talk family communication platform, and we’ll reach out with an answer soon!


Click here to see what’s happening in this week’s edition of Wednesday Mail.

Please be advised there will be NO tutorials this Saturday, October 16th due to our long weekend. Tutorials will resume next Saturday, October 23rd. We hope you enjoy your three day weekend!

Don’t miss great memories from the 2021-2022 school year, order your yearbook now for $25! You may purchase a yearbook online through LifeTouch or on our school website.

The price will increase to $30 starting November 16th!

Click here to purchase your yearbook online LifeTouch website – Enter code 14433922

Click here to purchase your yearbook on our school website.

Click here to see some of our staff’s favorite things!

Please join us for the Harmony Public Schools S/W District Safety Meeting on Tuesday, October 26, 2021 at 2:00 P.M.

Zoom Link: https://harmonytx.zoom.us/j/89698925974

 

Harmony Science Academy- Katy is preparing to host our annual Fall Festival on Friday, October 29th. Our festival will feature games and other activities for students and families. We are kindly asking each grade level to donate certain items. If your child donates any items to help our festival, they will earn a free dress pass to be determined for a later date. Please turn in all donations to your child’s homeroom teacher by Friday, October 22nd.

 

  • Kindergarten- Assortment of candy
  • First Grade- Store bought baked goods (Bring baked goods the week of October 25th – 29th)
  • Second Grade- Store bought baked goods (Bring baked goods the week of October 25th – 29th)
  • Third Grade- Assortment of candy
  • Fourth Grade- miniature pumpkins/gourds
  • Fifth Grade- miniature pumpkins/gourds

Please be advised there is NO SCHOOL on Friday, October 15th due to staff professional development. We hope you have a great three day weekend.

Dear Parents/Guardians,

Please join us for our upcoming District Annual Title I meeting.

During this meeting, we will review, evaluate, and develop a written Parent and Family Engagement Policy (PFE) for 2021-2022. 

Houston West District District Annual Title I Meeting  

Wednesday, October 20 for Houston West (12:30 pm-1:00 pm)

For more details, please see the invitation attached. If you plan to attend, please RSVP using the link.

Thank you!

Queridos padres:
Están cordialmente invitados a asistir a la reunión de participación de padres y familias del Título I del distrito Houston West.
Cuándo: miércoles 20 de octubre de 2021
Hora: 12:00 PM – 12:30 PM
La junta será virtual.
Por favor confirmen su asistencia por medio del link para que se les envíe invitación a Zoom.
La reunión será virtual.
Confirme su asistencia a través del enlace para recibir una invitación a Zoom
Forma para RSVP
Meta / Propósito: Revisar, evaluar y actualizar / desarrollar la Política de Participación de los Padres y la Familia (PFE) escritaTemas de la agenda:
I. Presentación del programa Título I
II. Revisar y evaluar la política de PFE del año pasado.
III. Juntos desarrollaremos la política y el acuerdo de PFE para este año.
IV. El plan de estudios y el rendimiento académico de la escuela V. Comentarios, preguntas y respuestas

Click here to access all of the “Parent Academy” information.