Frequently Asked Questions
Why did you start this school?
To create another public school choice option for the families in Williamson County and the surrounding area who are looking for a school that might be a better fit for the educational and social needs of their child.
Who opened this school?
Gateway College Prep School is wholly owned and operated by Orenda Education, a private, not-for-profit organization that was incorporated in 1995 and is headquartered in Georgetown, Texas. Orenda Education is the sponsoring entity for Orenda Charter Schools and Gateway College Prep is under the Orenda Charter Schools umbrella.
Is Gateway affiliated with any religious group or for-profit management company?
No. Gateway is a public school and Orenda Education is a private non-sectarian organization. Orenda is not associated with any other charter school organization, school district, religious organization or for-profit education management company.
What type of school is Gateway College Preparatory School?
Gateway is an “open-enrollment” public charter school offering a rigorous college preparatory curriculum.
What is a charter school?
A charter school is a unique public school that was created by the Texas legislature in 1995 to bring new innovations and additional learning opportunities to the public school system. Charter schools were given permission to be more creative and innovative so some of the rules and regulations that school districts must follow do not apply to charter schools. Charter schools were purposely designed with fewer regulatory and political hurdles so as to quickly implement and replicate effective new teaching strategies and school designs. However, public charter schools are held to an even higher level of accountability for academic achievement and financial management. Another difference is that public charter schools do not receive as much state and local funding as traditional public schools because they have no taxing authority and receive no local tax revenues. A charter school is a public school managed by a private non-profit 501 (c) 3 organization.
What does it cost a student family to attend a Gateway College Preparatory School?
Nothing. There is no tuition charge. However, because of the funding differences between our public charter school and the local traditional school districts, we do ask each student family to contribute to our annual Gator Fund drive. The Gator Fund drive is how we make up for this funding difference. Gator Fund donations allow us to recruit and retain quality teachers, offer extracurricular programs and help to cover some of the costs of permanent facilities construction. Without the Gator Funds we could not offer all of our current quality programming. We do charge some reasonable fees for extracurricular programming, student parking, club participation, etc. to help defray those expenses.
What are some of the regulatory differences between a charter school and a traditional school district?
Governance is a big difference. Local school districts are public entities and have publicly elected school board members while charter schools are operated by private not-for-profit entities with board members that are appointed by the charter school sponsoring entity. Orenda Education is the sponsoring entity for Gateway. Another major difference is that charter schools have no taxing authority to collect revenues to pay for school facilities. Charter schools also have more flexibility to change the instructional school day and methods, and can establish their own human resource policies and practices.
How are you different from a private school?
As a public school, our enrollment is open to all students as long as we have space available. Our students receive the same state-required curriculum as other Texas public school students. Private schools charge tuition and have selective admissions. As a public school, Gateway Prep cannot promote any religion.
How are you held accountable for academic results?
Gateway is under the same academic accountability standards as all other public schools in Texas. Gateway will be evaluated by the required State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR), the federal mandates, and No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation.
How do you pay for this school? Where does your school revenue come from?
As a public charter school, Gateway receives state and federal public school revenue on a per student funding formula just as other traditional public school districts do. There are some funding formula differences between charter schools and traditional public schools, but the significant difference is that charter schools like Gateway are not allowed to draw local tax revenues and, therefore, do not receive any funding for facilities and maintenance. The financing to pay for Gateway Prep School permanent facilities must come from a combination of private financing, grants, charitable donations and from the sponsoring entity’s cash reserves.
Why are you capping enrollment at 100 - 125 students per graduating class?
We selected that cap to keep the student body small enough so we can establish and maintain the type of school culture we desire while at the same time being big enough to achieve the financial efficiency we need to remain strong financially. We believe a student body size of about 100 - 125 per graduating class meets those two primary objectives.
Do you offer transportation?
We do not provide bus transportation other than to transport students to and from athletic and academic University Interscholastic League (UIL) competition, as well as field trips.
Do you offer food services?
Yes. Gateway has its own food service department and prepares fresh food each day on site. A lunch menu is provided so that students may chose from a list of meal options. A meal fee is charged and can be paid on-line.
Do Gateway Prep graduates receive a diploma recognized by accredited universities?
Is Gateway Prep accredited?
Yes. Gateway is accredited by the Texas Education Agency.
Are Gateway Prep students in the top 10% of class rank eligible to participate in the “Top Ten Percent Admission Rule” to Texas public institutions of higher education?
Yes. Gateway graduating seniors who rank in the top ten percent of the class academically and who have completed the recommended or distinguished achievement programs or the new HB 5 endorsements and distinguished level of achievement graduation plans are eligible for automatic admission into a public Texas university according to the current rule.
Are Advanced Placement (AP) and Pre-AP classes offered?
Yes. All Gateway College Prep middle and high school core courses are offered at the level set by pre-AP and AP standards. These standards are set by the College Board. Students will receive pre-AP / AP credit for these courses.
Which foreign languages are offered?
Gateway College Prep offers Spanish and French taught by a certified teacher. As enrollment increases and grades are added, other languages may be added.
How much homework should a student expect each night?
The amount of time spent on homework varies because students differ so much, but for our secondary students allowing for one to three hours of homework a night would be a good rule. The more advanced courses a student is enrolled in will increase the amount of work done outside the classroom.
What sports do you offer?
Currently we offer six sports for both males and females. The athletics section of this web site list the sports and teams offered by grade and gender. Gateway is a member of the University Interscholastic League ("UIL") and the Texas High School Lacrosse League ("THSLL"). All traditional public schools in Texas are members of the UIL but very few charter schools are. Gateway is the only public charter school in the Greater Austin Area that is a UIL member and competes in UIL athletics. We take our athletics seriously and, unlike most charter schools, are committed to offering a full array of UIL athletic opportunities for our students. We offer an organized program of development beginning in 5th grade that will help our student-athletes go on to compete at the college level after high school graduation.
Where do you practice and play?
All of our sports teams, with the one exception of swimming, practice and play competitions on our new 40 acre "green school" campus. We have our own gymnasium, soccer/lacrosse fields, track with field events, baseball and softball fields with indoor training facilities, and a strength training room on our campus. Our swimming teams practice at the Georgetown Recreation Aquatics Center.
Why don't you offer Football?
We have no plans to offer football because of the resources a strong football program consumes and because we do not receive as much state provided funding as the traditional public schools we would compete against. Surrounded by much larger public schools with multi-million dollar football facilities, and much larger athletic department budgets, it is not realistic to expect that we can be competitive in football. This policy does allow us to place a higher percentage of our athletic fund resources into the other sports we offer making those programs stronger and more competitive. If your son wants to play a "contact sport", we do offer lacrosse.
When are practices held for the school athletic teams?
Generally practice times occur before, after, or during the school "athletic period". Some additional practices may be held outside the school day. For more specific information, go to the athletics page of the web site.
Do you have organized booster clubs and how do you raise money for the athletic teams?
Yes, we have an "All Sports Booster Club" to support our athletic teams. Gateway's policy is that a large portion of the extracurricular activity costs be covered through a combination of student feeds and booster club fundraising. Generally, the costs to operate an athletic team include coach stipends, equipment, official fees, uniforms, transportation, supplies, entry fees and other related costs.
How competitive are your athletic teams?
We believe we can compete for district honors in each sport we offer. Our varsity baseball team has won several district championships and advanced deep into the UIL playoffs. Our junior varsity basketball team won district, and our varsity swimming team had several swimmers who qualified for the UIL state swim championships. Other Gateway Prep teams have made the UIL or THSLL playoffs, and we have sent several track athletes to the UIL state meet. Our goal is to be the best we can be.
What student club activities do you offer?
We encourage all our students to be involved in one or more of the various social/enrichment clubs we offer. You can find a list of the active clubs and contacts on this web site under the Student Life section. Club participation is a valuable experience to reference on your college admission application.
Can a student get academic credit for club participation?
Credit is not awarded for club participation only, However, credit is awarded for enrollment in courses for which there are accompanying clubs. An example of this would be Debate Club. No credit is awarded for Debate Club, but, the student would be enrolled in Debate class for which they would receive credit. We encourage all our students to be involved in one or more of the the various clubs.
Why do you not offer a marching or performance band program?
As a small charter school, we do not have enough students or resources for a marching band or performance band program. This is one of the programs we have chosen not to offer.
When do club activities occur?
Most of the club activities occur before or after the instructional day.
What geographical boundary must you live in to be eligible to enroll at Gateway?
Enrollment is open to all students who reside in our primary and secondary geographic boundaries as defined by our charter. (click here to view boundaries) Our charter does give priority to students who live in the Round Rock, Georgetown, Leander and Pflugerville ISDs boundaries.
Is it true that charter schools get to select the students they allow to attend their school?
No. Gateway is an “open-enrollment charter school". It is open to all students as long as seats are available.
What is the difference in an enrollment application and registration?
An enrollment application tells us you are interested in attending Gateway but a registration is needed to reserve your seat. Every student who is interested in attending Gateway should fill out an Enrollment Application. The enrollment application puts your name in for registration. If there are more enrollment applications received during the "Open Enrollment Period" each February than there are seats available, a lottery will be held to determine who is offered the opportunity to register and reserve their seat. If a lottery is needed, student names will be listed in the order in which they are “pulled” from the lottery. Those who have submitted an enrollment application during the open enrollment period or after the open enrollment period will be sent a Registration Packet or will be notified of their waiting list number. The registration packet must be completed and submitted within two weeks of receipt to register and reserve the enrollment seat for the upcoming school year.
Can you still enroll if you missed the initial enrollment period?
Yes. Following the open enrollment period, students may still enroll in Gateway until all available seats are filled. After all seats are filled, those who fill out an enrollment application will be placed on waiting list to attend during the school year in the order the enrollment was received. If a seat becomes available, the next student on the waiting list will be contacted to register and reserve the available seat.
Once a student is registered at Gateway College Preparatory School, are they guaranteed a seat for future school years?
Yes. However, if a student who is registered in Gateway transfers to another school and then wants to come back to Gateway, their enrollment is treated as a first time enrollment and subject to the same policy and procedures regarding availability of seats.
Is the sibling of a registered Gateway student guaranteed an enrollment?
No. Siblings of enrolled Gateway students are given priority.
Is a foreign exchange student who lives with a family that has a child enrolled in Gateway guaranteed an enrollment?
Yes, provided space is available, the student meets the minimum level of English proficiency, and is sponsored by a recognized organization.