A new charter school is set to open in 2012-13 inside Antioch’s Hickory Hollow Mall, under one of three charter proposals the Metro Nashville Board of Education unanimously approved Tuesday night.
Knowledge Academy, a middle school start-up charter pitched by founder Art Fuller, will initially locate in 15,000 square feet of space near Electronic Express at the south end of the struggling mall, with the school’s physical size expected to grow as more grades are ushered in. The new charter school will join The Academy of Hickory Hollow as Metro schools that operate out of the shopping center.
“We’re very excited about it,” Fuller said, adding that he and others are beginning an aggressive outreach to southeast Davidson County students and families. “We’re ready to roll up our sleeves.”
“Number 1, we want the school to be personalized,” Fuller said. “We’re having a 20-1 pupil-to-teacher ratio, so students will have individualized attention. It’s going to be more collaborative. Students, teachers and parents will collaborate with a lot of things going on in the school.”
Tuesday’s board meeting was just the latest chapter in Nashville’s charter boom, as the approval of three schools will eventually bring Metro’s total number of publicly financed, privately run schools to 14. All votes were unanimous and came at the recommendations of a charter review committee.
For the first time, charter schools are coming to the southeast part of the county, a focus several board members have strongly advocated.
Besides southeast-based Knowledge Academy, the school board approved LEAD Academy founder Jeremy Kane’s proposal for a new LEAD fifth- through 12th-grade school in the Antioch area. A building hasn’t been identified, yet the school is set to open in 2012.
With approval of LEAD’s southeast school, Kane’s organization will be the operator of four Metro charter schools. Existing schools include LEAD Academy’s middle school, its high school and a revamped Cameron Middle charter school, opening this fall.
In addition, the school board voted Tuesday for East Nashville’s KIPP Academy to expand with the creation of a new high school.
KIPP’s upper school will go in a soon-to-be renovated portion of the Highland Heights building on Douglas Avenue, adjacent to KIPP’s existing middle school. Metro dollars have been set aside for the renovation. The KIPP high school will open in 2013.
Meanwhile, the school board voted to disapprove six charter applicants, at the recommendations of the review committee. Under state law, all six have opportunities to appeal the decisions.