Thirteen organizations have signaled they intend to apply this spring to open new charter schools in Metro, a sign of the booming times for publicly financed, privately led charters in Nashville.
The deadline was Wednesday to submit letters of intent to seek charter approval for the 2012 charter-review cycle. Charter groups that submitted letters aren’t obligated to submit formal applications in April but the letters are a prerequisite to move forward.
Formal charter applications must be delivered to the district’s central office by April 2. “Review teams” then analyze the applications before recommending approval or disapproval to the Metro Nashville Board of Education. The school board is scheduled to consider charter applications on May 22.
Metro has 11 operating charter schools, with four additional schools authorized to open next school year.
Among the crop of this year’s 13 charter applications is Phoenix-based Great Hearts Academies, which arrived in Nashville following a push for a charter school in parts of West Nashville, neighborhoods that are largely affluent.
Great Hearts has proposed an initial K-9 school, with plans to add a high school at a later point. Great Hearts has listed an expected enrollment of 592 students for its first year and 834 students long-term.
Tennessee State University also appears to be getting in the charter mix. An application for a charter school called University Bound Academy lists TSU interim President Portia Shields as the applicant’s main contact. The school would be for kindergarten through eighth grade.
Contacted by The City Paper, Shields discussed a science and technology-based school housed on the TSU campus. The charter school, governed by a board that would include TSU's deans, would allow the university to live up to a "responsibility for helping our neighborhood," she said.
"You should see loving arms wrapped around the children in the neighborhood and supported by our students, our faculty and staff, and the community ... ," Shields said.
KIPP Academy Nashville, which already operates a middle school in East Nashville, has submitted a letter of intent to apply for an additional school serving grades five through 12. Randy Dowell, executive director of KIPP Nashville, said he would like to start by opening a middle school at an undetermined location.
This year’s charter applicants include four fellows from the Tennessee Charter School Incubator, an apparatus Mayor Karl Dean helped launch in 2009 to assist educators in getting their charter schools off the ground. Boston-based Building Excellent Schools supports the incubator.
The proposed incubator schools are Purpose Preparatory Academy, a K-4 charter; Intrepid College Prep, a 5-12 charter; Nashville Girls School, a 9-12 charter school; and Nashville Classical, a K-4 charter.
Other charter groups that submitted letters of intent to the school district are:
• Antioch Together Prep — a K-5 charter school
• Aspire College Preparatory Academy — led by an Oakland, Calif.-based charter organization, which has applied for two K-8 schools
• Cardinal Academy — a 6-12 school
• Excel Academy — a charter school that would target adults
• Fusion Connection — a 9-12 charter school
• Genesis Transitio — a charter than would target students ages 17 to 22 years old who “would not typically continue on to higher education programs.”