Metro school board braces for review of 6 new charter schools

Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 12:02am

In light of what the school district considers a legislative victory in local control, Metro school board members are bracing to review six new charter school applications this spring.

Originally, 10 charter school operators put the district on notice earlier this year that they each wanted to open a school within the district, but only six handed in completed applications to the district this month.

“There will be denials,” said Alan Coverstone, executive director of the district’s Office of Innovation, at Tuesday night’s school board work session. He added charters will have 30 days instead of 15 days this year to offer minor tweaks to proposals after a district rejection.

The Office of Innovation reviews charter school applications and oversees magnet, charter and turnaround schools.

Last year, the district collected 10 charter school applications, ultimately approving five of them, according to Coverstone.

Charter schools have become something of a sore spot for the Metro school board which caught flack from the state and Mayor Karl Dean for rejecting Great Hearts Academies charter school application last fall in light of diversity concerns.

This year, the district was the loudest voice against a legislative proposal by House Speaker Beth Harwell to allow the state to approve charter schools rejected by the local school district, a move in direct response to the school board’s controversial denial last year. The measure ultimately died in the legislature last week.

Charter school applications that were due April 1 are now being vetted by the Office of Innovation at Metro Nashville Public Schools. Once the office gives an application the thumbs up, the school board is expected to vote in late June whether to approve recommended charters, which would likely trigger the schools to open in the 2014-15 school year, although one wants to open the year after.

Of the 10 original applicants who expected to hand in a proposal, one never applied, another withdrew to spend more time on the application, and two others failed to fully complete the application to state standards, according to Coverstone.

Charter school operators still in the running include:

• KIPP Nashville College Prep Elementary School, which would be a college prep in East Nashville for students in grades K-4. To view the application click here.

• Explore Community School, a college prep and cultural heritage of Maplewood and Stratford clusters planned for grades K-8. To view the application click here.

• Nashville Academy of Computer Science (formerly called Nashville Prep II), with a focus on college prep and computer programming in North and West Nashville, serving grades 5-8. To view the application click here.

• Rocketship Nashville, a K-5 school proposing traditional and blended learning in North or South Nashville. To view the application click here.

• Thurgood Marshall School of Career Development, a school zeroing in on high school students who have had some contact with the juvenile justice system, serving grades 9-12. To view the application click here.

• Valor Collegiate Academy, a college prep intending to work with diverse populations in Southeast Nashville, grades 5-12. To view the application click here.


8 Comments on this post:

By: on 4/24/13 at 7:08

Are these corporate for-profit schools? No to corporate greed - in schools, government and elsewhere.

By: Badbob on 4/24/13 at 7:32

Corporate greed works so well in health care. Why not schools?

By: pswindle on 4/24/13 at 9:00

Mayor Dean has told the school system to cut millions because of budget shortfall, and the Charter Schools want to come in and take millions more. Something does not add up. The Charter schools are draining the life out of Metro School System.

By: ChrisMoth on 4/24/13 at 9:16

Ms. Zelinsky: Thank you SO MUCH for putting these applications on line.

This is a revolutionary step forward for Nashville. All our citizens can read the 1500 pages and start to evaluate whether experiments offered by these charters are novel in construction, or how they will potentially impact the schools that 96% of our public school children attend. We can also start to picture the cost issues, and contemplate how they will be met in the short and medium terms.

At first glance, and I hope I am mistaken, all of these schools seem to require a "choice" on the part of parents. From my work on Charters over the last year, I am increasingly convinced that this "choice requirement" simply and immediately segregates out the bottom quartile of our students (as measured in academic scores) who lack parent support fundamentally.

If any of these charters would simply take over all the operations of a failing existing school building, I would be much more enthusiastic about that experiment. Until then, I fear we are just shuffling kids around - and that our results are likely echoing the national result... that charters accomplish absolutely nothing besides separating out that lowest quartile, creating pockets of higher average scores.

I am _not_ claiming that this kind of segregation is fundamentally bad. I do claim that if our leaders feel it is good, then we should do it in our zoned schools as well. Otherwise, our zoned schools are sure to increasingly end up as repositories of last resort for our street kids. Charters may already be causing this in some areas of town. We need to be very vigilant around that potential problem.

Moreover, before we open another 6 schools, we need to carefully ask ourselves how much of our energy should be focused on schools that sever 4% or 5% or 6% of our kids at most. Right now, it feels like 90%. How do we get that down to 10%?

Thanks much,

Chris Moth, 2020 Overhill Dr

By: Rasputin72 on 4/24/13 at 11:40

Charter schools are nothing more than a boondoggle.

Someone should realize that 63% of the public school students are not intrested in education as educated people know as education.

By: Vuenbelvue on 4/24/13 at 6:34

MNPS should make public all salaries from the top down of the Charter schools and include what portion is property tax payer or federally funded. Break it down. Did they build their own building, did they provide books, transportation, meals, maintenance and utilities? It might be easier to say "what do they provide?"
You got to love those original names for the schools. Thurgood Marshall, that great Tennessean, Rocketship school, I guess they were turned down in Huntsville, Ala. Valor school. Be brave teachers to work with the world's immigrant children we are forced to pay for.
Fire School Board Head Register for obviously failing on his job. Hint, If he was successful, Metro would not need Charter Schools.

By: firstworldproblems on 4/24/13 at 9:59

I agree with you, Vuenbelvue. I would also love to know how much money is going into charter salaries.

I know that in most states, charter schools cannot have new buildings built using taxpayer funds. They have to go into existing buildings, which is why many charter schools are in old school buildings, office buildings, etc.

If private donors want to put up the money for a building, they can do that, but that's it.

By: CoyoteCrawford on 4/25/13 at 8:12

Charter schools are a waste of taxpayer money.