An elementary school that almost closed down due to budget cuts and declining enrollment has gotten a second chance.
The brand-new Garner Fine Arts Academy in Grand Prairie is no longer a standard elementary school. Now students from Kindergarten through fifth grade will act, dance, and sing while still learning their everyday subjects.
Grand Prairie ISD spokesman Sam Buchmeyer said the school district spent $21,000 in advertisements in and out of the school district boundaries. Billboards, postcards, and word of mouth netted positive results when the new school year arrived as enrollment went up from 300 to 550 students. Principal Vikki Vogel said 70 students are coming from out of the district and 86 are transfers from within the district.
Vogel said the point of the advertisements were not to steal students from other districts. Instead, she said the effort was made to give parents choices from in and out of the district borders.
"Really what we're trying to do is to get our students back into GPISD. Those families that are looking for choice, that have chosen charter schools, private schools, we're trying to get those students to get back to GPISD and see what great things are going on here," she said.
Clint Donaldson, a Dallas resident, said he commuted 20 minutes each way to take his son to the Grand Prairie school.
"I think it's all about choice,'" Donaldson said, "And when you get to make a choice for your child and what's best for them, that's the most important thing."
Buchmeyer said the school district is monitoring data that is coming in from this school year. The school district may look into seeing if similar transformations can be made with more schools throughout the district.