Charter School Director Calls Jesse Register’s Increasing Support ‘Refreshing’

Mayor Karl Dean was the one cutting the ribbon at the opening of KIPP Nashville's new high school, but Nashville schools superintendent Jesse Register spoke at the ceremony. Credit: Emily Siner / WPLN

Mayor Karl Dean was the one cutting the ribbon at the opening of KIPP Nashville’s new high school, but Nashville schools superintendent Jesse Register spoke at the ceremony. Credit: Emily Siner / WPLN

Last year, school officials accused KIPP Academy, a charter school in Nashville, of dropping its most challenging students right before standardized testing. But when KIPP celebrated the opening of its new high school Tuesday, Metro’s school superintendent Jesse Register was there to help cut the ribbon.

“I certainly hope it signals developing positive relationships,” he said of his appearance.

It marks a continuing shift in the rocky relationship between the school board and charter operators. Last month, Register called for civility and cooperation at a school board council meeting. He also announced that he would be meeting with charter school directors every month. The first meeting was held late July.

“I think some of the negative conversations we’ve had over the last year or two have hurt everyone, and it’s time to turn that around,” Register said.

KIPP Nashville director Randy Dowell said the new partnership is still in the early stages.

“The next month or two at the next couple of meetings, hopefully we get some clarity on where we want to dig in,” he said. “But right now, there’s just a spirit of collaboration, which is just so refreshing.”

It’s a dramatically different relationship, he said, than when he first started working in Nashville 10 years ago.

Part of the monthly discussions will look at how the district can fund the growing number of charter schools without straining its budget.

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