Prospective Charter Schools Don’t Convince Nashville School Officials

The Metro School Board denied all six applications for new charter schools at last night’s board meeting.

That was after listening to recommendations made by a review committee. The charter applications ranged from an all boys K-12 school to a science and technology based middle school – a school that has now been denied four times. Smithson – Craighead Academy, which opened in 2003, hoped to add a high school. That expansion also got denied.

Alan Coverstone, who oversees charter schools, says the committee had a couple of concerns. Smithson-Craighead’s elementary school didn’t meet state standards this year, and they just opened up a middle school.
Also, they felt academic plans were lacking.

“The particulars of how the high school would operate and what the differences are between a high school and elementary school and even a middle school are not evident in the application. And that work is very important work when you’re talking about students graduating.”

Coverstone says all six applicants have great vision, but lack in key areas like strong community support and detailed instructional plans. He also doesn’t want to set schools or students up for failure.

“In the past the problem was we were in a position of having to judge whether or not these were well meaning people who had a good idea and a good plan and that’s only part of the deal. The standard is, ‘what’s in the best interest of the students?’”

The applicants have until the November 25, 2009, to go back to the drawing board and address concerns raised by the review committee. If the school board denies them again, they can appeal to the state board of education.

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