Selected readings on US charter schools
Nine charter school operators have signaled interest in applying to open new schools in Nashville, including six that would locate in the south part of the city and another looking to take over a low-performing Metro school.
The crop, which each has until April 1 to decide whether it wants to formally apply with the district, marks the first publicly financed, privately operated charters to approach Metro about opening schools here following the school board’s adoption of a controversial policy that outlines new parameters.
Citing financial pressures posed by the recent influx of new charters, the board has requested only two types of charter proposals: new elementary charter schools in south Davidson County to ease overcrowded schools there or groups willing to take over chronically poor-performing schools. Letters of intent to seek entry into Nashville were due on Friday.
One potential applicant, STRIVE Collegiate Academy, led by a fellow of the Nashville-based Tennessee Charter School Center, has proposed a new middle school in the McGavock High School area, which is not one of the areas targeted for new charters.
Others, which include six charters with an existing Nashville presence and three outside groups, have clearly responded to the new charter plan. KIPP Academy Nashville, for example, is seeking its fifth school in Davidson County by taking over a struggling school in East or North Nashville.
“Our team is committed to creating a vibrant, college-going culture for the students in the communities that we serve in East and North Nashville,” KIPP Nashville Executive Director Randy Dowell said.
Metro has only once before turned over keys of a public school to a private charter organization. Schools that qualify for a takeover — designated by low achievement results for three consecutive years — won’t be clear until the spring.
Operators that issued letters are not obligated to follow through by formally applying, but historically most do. At this early stage, applicants aren’t required to list a location, though most this year have followed the new policy and targeted south Nashville.
“Overall, it looks like the charter market is trying to respond to the district’s needs, which is different than what we’ve seen in the past,” said board member Will Pinkston, who drafted the charter policy.
Source: The Tennessean – by Joey Garrison