TYLER, TX (KLTV) - A new middle school could be in the future for the Tyler Independent School District.
The school board is considering the addition that could start in the 2018 school year by changing the Caldwell Elementary campus into the only Kindergarten through eighth grade fine arts magnet school in East Texas.
We stopped by during practice that was well underway in Caldwell auditorium for their Christmas program. And that includes kindergartener Drew, who's mom Marisa Schouten opted out of their zoned TISD school so that he and his second-grade brother Garrett could be exposed to more of the arts.
"The big thing for me is that my children be very excited to go to school every day. And I wanted an environment where they are enthusiastic about learning," Schouten said.
Since 2001, Caldwell Elementary Arts Academy has become known as a school that enhances the whole child through the arts. And now the district is proposing to expand that legacy, changing Caldwell into a Fine Arts Magnet School for grades Kindergarten through 8th grade with no attendance zone.
"We think we have a great opportunity here in Tyler, Texas to be the first true East Texas arts magnet and make that something special for our community," Superintendent Dr. Marty Crawford said.
Fourteen-year veteran drama teacher Derek Johnson says it's a great way to cater to the unconventional student.
"So what the arts do for that child that doesn't have that confidence in the classroom, they can step into another classroom and become really accomplished in a short amount of time at something and they feel the instant reward from their peers," Johnson said.
In addition to their current programs, Some of the additional fine arts opportunities would include acapella vocal groups, jazz bands, digital arts and technical theater.
"They are learning a ton of skills in just a sneaky kind of way. Reading comprehension is better, they test better because they are able to focus and have discipline. There are all sorts of benefits of an arts education that wouldn't even include your idea of one day my kid will be a rock star," Schouten said.
And by expanding these programs to include the middle school, it's filling a gap between Caldwell's current program and the high school.
"Honestly, it stopped after they've left here and they moved and found other avenues and other interests. Some it's lead them back to theater once they arrive back in high school. But they missed it for that time and we want to continue that growth," Johnson said.
Here's how it would work: Next year Kindergarten through 3rd grade could either apply to the program or go to a new zone with 4 and 5th grades grandfathered in. Plus, the 6th grade for the Fine Arts Magnet school would be added. Then, the following year the 7th grade would be added and by 2020 it would be a full K-8 Fine Arts Magnet with no zoned students.
"Our community is diversifying, we've got a bit of artistic uprising within Tyler and I think that's a cool thing to have and being able to align some of the things we have inside out of our school system, to meet their needs is something we are really excited about," Crawford said.
If approved by the school board, it's an addition that would add more school choice at the middle school level while utilizing the facilities the district already owns.
The school board plans to consider the move early next year. Applications for the K-5 program begin January 3rd. If the middle school expansion is approved by the school board, sixth-grade applications would be considered at a later date.