Private Schools Gaining Popularity in the Basin

By Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

Our booming economy has prompted many West Texans to re-evaluate how they're spending extra cash, and one of the fastest growing ways are schools. 

Private schools in Midland are seeing more students each year, and that has school leaders talking about how to deal with the growth.

"A good economy is always going to allow people to make decisions they've been putting off for awhile," Alan Barr, Head of Trinity School in Midland, said.

And it's got more and more West Texans choosing private education.

"With so much increase of people coming into the city," Barr said. "They're going to be looking for the kinds of schools they had in their last city, whether that's an independent school or a small neighborhood school."

And the hallways are full.

"We've grown at about 10-15 percent each year and it's just steadily grown," Ron Miller, Dean of Academics at Midland Classical Academy, said.

As private education becomes more and more popular, schools like Trinity in Midland are seeing more students come from other cities like Odessa that don't have private high schools.

"We've seen a lot of growth out of people coming into Midland," Barr said.

But it's not just because of the oil industry.

"We're getting a lot of families coming here for the medical field," Barr said. "With the hospital expanding and the programs they're bringing on, the National recognition they're starting to get. We're getting a lot more physicians being recruited into the city either here in Midland or Odessa, and that's been a big market for us as well."

And with more students, comes the need for more teachers. Trinity School hired 20 new staff members this year, more than ever before. And some from as far away as Virginia.

"There comes a tipping point where you have to add more faculty and expand classrooms to meet growing enrollment," Barr said. "We're rapidly approaching that point."

Schools like Midland Classical are already at capacity.

"We're growing to the next level and we're trying to determine if we're going to build a classroom wing, if we're going to have some portable classrooms, and just wait and see if we continue to grow or possibly cap it at the number we have now," Miller said.

And school leaders think there won't be any desks to spare.

"I don't think anybody can predict what's going to happen. We are already seeing a lot of activity for next year," Barr said.