LEAD charter school nets $320,000 Gates grant

Wednesday, August 5, 2009 at 12:46pm

Nashville charter school LEAD Academy, which currently serves middle school grades, has earned a $320,000 grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop a high school.

The high school is planned for opening in 2010, and would be the only high school charter option for Nashville students.

Charter schools are publicly funded, and privately operated schools, which have seen some success in Nashville. The state legislature recently approved big changes to Tennessee’s current charter school laws, which allow expanded charter school eligibility and set a cap of as many as 20 charter schools that can be established in Nashville.

Metro Nashville Public Schools currently has three charter schools in operation: LEAD Academy, Smithson-Craighead, and KIPP Academy.

Two new charter schools — Smithson-Craighead's middle school and Global Academy — will start serving students this fall.

Once they are part of the school system, charter schools must meet the same federal and state educational guidelines as other public schools. Charter schools receive local and state funding, but no public funds for building or transportation.