One El Paso school district is set to open its first all-girl public school in the city and west Texas.
The Ysleta Independent School Distirct is opening the Young Women's Leadership Academy (YWLA) for the 2016-2017 school year. It will be located at 7615 Yuma Drive in El Paso's lower valley. That used to be the location of Ranchland Middle School.
For the first year, the academy will have 6th and 7th grade girls. It will add a grade level every year until the school has grades 6-12.
The YWLA is also part of the Young Women's Preparatory Network (YWPN) which is a nonprofit agency that partners with public school districts across the state of Texas. They operate the largest network of all-girls, public and college preparatory schools in the nation.
The academy accepted applications from girls all over the city, not just in the Ysleta district. YISD paid for the school with money from the voter approved bond proposal. The YWPN also provided a million dollars in funding to help finance the academy.
The school's curriculum will focus on STEAM: science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.
YISD's superintendent Dr. Xavier Del La Torre says the goal is to promote the college culture, and prepare girls who come from families where higher education isn't an established tradition.
"There won't be any general education courses here. It's understood that this is about college readiness. This is about promoting the level of rigor needed in colleges and universities," says Dr. De la Torre.
The El Paso Independent School District will soon follow with an all-girl public school opening in fall of 2017. That's according to the district's website. A location has not been chosen.