Statement from Board of Education Chair Dr. Sharon Gentry on the Director of Schools decision

“I am surprised and greatly disappointed in Dr. Looney’s decision to decline our offer. Throughout the negotiation process he appeared committed to this opportunity. We would not have carried through with the contract and final vote if he had not been. Not only did the Board commit a tremendous amount of time and energy into finding who we thought would be a great fit for our school system, but the entire community participated in this process which we now have to begin again.

“The Board will need to regroup on how we move forward from here. The district is in capable hands with Chris Henson as interim director, so I do not feel a sense of urgency to make any immediate decisions. Our upcoming Board retreat in the fall will be an opportunity for us to discuss this and come together on the best course of action to ensure we get a top-quality leader that our students and teachers deserve.”

Statement from Director of Schools Dr. Jesse Register on the failure of tuition equality

Dr. Register issued the following statement after the failure of HB 675:

“Today the Tennessee Legislature denied deserving young people across Tennessee the ability to improve their futures. Without the same opportunities given to their peers, young new Americans will continue to struggle in trying to attend college.

“It is a shame that our students, sitting in the gallery as this vote took place, had to witness such a lack of leadership in our state lawmakers. They have been deeply engaged in this process from the beginning, a testament to their desire for access to higher education and their dedication to civic engagement.

“Nashville is by far the city with the largest number of new American students in Tennessee, and this decision will have a tangible impact on our city as a whole. By essentially blocking their way into college, we are hampering their advancement in our community.

“We are thankful for the 49 members of the House who voted in favor of this, as well as bill sponsors Rep. Mark White and Sen. Todd Gardenhire, and especially grateful to the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition for leading this effort. We look forward to another vote on this matter next year and hope our state leaders will do the right thing for these students and their futures.”

Metro Schools receives 13 charter applications in 2015

Today Metro Schools received 13 complete applications to operate charter schools before the April 1 deadline for the 2015 application cycle. Single applications for two (2) elementary, three (3) middle, and one (1) high school were received. The remaining seven (7) of those are multiple applications from Rocketship (3) and LEAD Public Schools (4). One application was returned because it was incomplete.

School Name Grade Range Proposed Opening Number of Students Year 1 Number of Students at Capacity
D.R.E.A.M. Academy Pre-K – 4 2016 200 600
KIPP Nashville Primary K-4 2017 100 500
Rocketship 3 K-4 2016 448 560
Rocketship 4 K-4 2016 448 560
Rocketship Conversion K-4 2016 448 560
East End Prep Add 6-8 2017 100 300
KIPP Nashville Middle School 5-8 2017 96 350
Knowledge Academies @The Crossings 5-8 2016 200 300
LEAD Academy Conversion 1 5-12 2016 140 1,000
LEAD Academy Conversion 2 5-12 2017 140 1,000
LEAD Academy Conversion 3 5-12 2017 140 1,000
LEAD Academy Conversion 4 5-12 2018 140 1,000
Cameron College Prep HS 9-12 2016 320 620

View the Applications Online

Each application will go through a careful and thorough review process as 3 teams of 11-12 specially trained educators and community members will carefully examine each application according to a detailed scoring rubric before offering recommendations to the Board of Education. Formal reports are given to the Board June 16th. The Board then votes to approve or deny each application by June 23, 2015.

This is the first formal step in the process of evaluating and approving charter schools. Applications that do not meet exacting quality standards or which do not advance the very best interests of the students and the district will be recommended for denial. Only those that meet the quality standards will be recommended for approval.

“Our review and authorization processes are strong, and have good track records going back a number of years,” said Alan Coverstone, who leads the Innovation Office that manages charter school authorizing for Metro Schools. “Our Board authorizes good schools and they do so according to the needs of our students and the priorities of the district as a whole. It is a system that works and benefits families across Nashville.”

The number one priority overall is program quality. Each proposal is first examined for its capacity to provide an exemplary educational program. The review then includes an evaluation of the operational capacity and long-term financial viability that can sustain academic excellence. Review teams then interview each applicant group before drawing together their final reports and recommendations.

“Above all else, we are focused on providing high-quality educational opportunities to Nashville families,” said Coverstone. “That includes working collaboratively with charter operators for the greater good of our students, district and Nashville as a whole.”

Dr. Register applauds Gov. Haslam’s proposed funding for teacher insurance

Earlier today, Gov. Bill Haslam published an amendment to his state budget proposal to include $30 million in recurring statewide funding for teacher insurance costs in the BEP.

Director of Schools Dr. Jesse Register applauds the move, saying:

This is a very positive step forward and proof that Governor Haslam listened to our concerns at last week’s meeting with the superintendents. It is clear that he and his team are willing to make real, collaborative progress toward our shared goal.

Funding teacher insurance is one of the two major concerns we shared with the Governor last week, and it was the top recommendation of the BEP committee. This is the first step toward solving it. Reaching a full solution will take time and cooperation, but together we can come up with a substantive plan to properly fund public education in Tennessee.

It also confirms for me that a lawsuit is the wrong direction to take. As today proves, more can be accomplished by working together than in the courts.

Statement from Director of Schools Dr. Jesse Register on the Metro Schools Performance Audit

The audit report we received last week is a thorough analysis of our district’s operations. We always appreciate an outside perspective of our system, and we value much of the feedback given in this report.

There is much in this report to consider, much we have already addressed and some we do not agree with. Of the 124 recommendations given to district administration, we agree with the vast majority of them and almost all of them are currently being implemented or have already been addressed.

The report identifies nearly equal amounts of savings that can be generated over the next five years and investments needed to improve services.

The most dramatic changes recommended in this report are to outsource three of our most vital non-academic functions. We have decided not to pursue those recommendations at this time. We have explored the risks and benefits of outsourcing these services in the past, and we determined that it was not worth any potential money to be saved. In fact, it could potentially cost the city more along with an expected degradation in service.

District improvement is an on-going effort, and we must always be thinking and practicing innovatively. We will continue to pore over this extensive report and make sure we consider every recommendation seriously.

Read the fact sheet on the Metro Schools Performance Audit report.

The full Metro School Performance Audit report can be found on the Office of Internal Audit website.

Letters of intent to apply to operate charter schools opening fall of 2016 and 2017

Eighteen letters of intent to file applications for charter school authorization were submitted by Monday afternoon’s deadline. Of the letters, 14 propose expansions of networks currently operating schools in Nashville, and four are proposals from new operators.

Eights of the letters point toward new elementary school (K-4) proposals, with three of those from Rocketship, which already operates one school in Nashville and is preparing to open a second this fall. Three of the first time operators plan to propose elementary schools. Existing operators Intrepid College Prep and KIPP signaled their intention to propose new elementary schools for their networks.

East End Academy, sponsored by the Martha O’Bryan Center, will seek to add grades 6-8 to its existing K-5 charter to complete development of a K-8 school.

Three middle school proposals will come from KIPP, New Vision, and Knowledge Academies. Each organization currently operates middle schools in Nashville.

LEAD Public Schools plans to propose adding high school grades (9-12) to its Cameron College Prep campus along with up to four new conversion schools over the next 1-4 years.

One proposal, from The Dream Academy, seeks a 6-12 grade configuration.

School Name Grade Range Proposed Opening
D.R.E.A.M. Academy PK-4 2016
International Academy of Excellence K-4 2016
Intrepid College Prep Elementary K-4 2017
Jump Start Reading and Math Academic K-4 2016
KIPP Elementary (replication) K-4 2017
Rocketship #3 K-4 2016
Rocketship #4 K-4 2016
Rocketship (conversion) K-4 2016
KIPP Middle (replication) 5-8 2017
Knowledge Academies @ The Crossings 5-8 2016
New Vision – NW 5-8 2016
East End Prep Middle 6-8 2017
LEAD Conversion 1 5-12 2016
LEAD Conversion 2 5-12 2016
LEAD Conversion 3 5-12 2017
LEAD Conversion 4 5-12 2017
The Dream Academy 6-12 2016
Cameron HS 9-12 2016

“This is a very early step in the process,” said Alan Coverstone, who heads the Innovation Office htat manages charter school authorizing for Metro Schools. “We will not know how well prepared the schools are to operate and meet the immediate needs in our district until after their applications are submitted April 1, 2015.”

Efforts to professionalize authorizing and oversight of charter schools since 2009 have borne fruit as the district has granted charters to several schools that are both academically high-performing and serve a diverse student body.

“The MNPS mission emphasizes the importance of high-performing and diverse schools, and we are pleased to see some of our real successes in those areas growing and serving more students well each year,” said Coverstone.

Once actual applications are received on April 1, each will undergo a rigorous and thorough review of organizational and financial capacity, educational plans, accessibility, and need. “We will only recommend approval of strong schools that serve the best interests of the students of Davidson County,” said Coverstone.

In the past year, examination of the potential fiscal impact of charter schools confirmed the district’s previously articulated priorities for schools that improve academic performance by converting management of low-performing schools and for schools located in areas where they can help to alleviate overcrowding from rapid student enrollment growth.

Submission of letters of intent to apply to open charter schools gives the Office of Innovation time to organize and train its application review teams according to the Principles and Standards of high-quality authorizing articulated by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA).

The time between now and April 1 also provides opportunity for potential applicants to consider, develop, and adapt plans in order to strengthen their potential applications serve the articulated needs of MNPS students.

Letter to Kirkpatrick Elementary Families – December 5, 2014

DOWNLOAD this letter as a PDF.

Dec. 5, 2014

Dear Kirkpatrick Elementary School Parents,

We are writing to tell you about an important change being planned for your school next year. The change would primarily affect next year’s Kindergarten and 1st grade classes (students who are currently Pre-Kindergarten age or in Kindergarten this year), and we want to be sure you have all the information and opportunities to have your questions answered.

The state and our local school district measure student achievement at all schools to determine if students are receiving an education that will prepare them for success in life. Based on the data measured by the state and our school district, unfortunately, Kirkpatrick Elementary School is not currently giving students the high-quality education they deserve.

District and school leaders are developing plans to improve all low-performing schools in Nashville, including Kirkpatrick. The school district has looked closely at Kirkpatrick’s challenges and needs, and believes the school could benefit the most from a partnership with a charter school in order to provide extra attention and support for the students in the school. Charter schools are independent public schools operated by a separate organization approved by the School Board.

The School Board authorized KIPP Nashville as a public charter school operator to convert a low-performing school starting in the 2015-2016 school year, and we are considering their support in transforming Kirkpatrick into a high-performing neighborhood school. KIPP currently operates two high-performing neighborhood public schools in Nashville and just opened Collegiate High School this summer in East Nashville. KIPP Academy Nashville and KIPP Nashville College Prep are both rated in the top performance category on the annual review of school performance by the school district. KIPP Academy Nashville, located at the Highland Heights building in East Nashville, has also been identified by the state of Tennessee as a “Reward” school, which means it ranked in the top 10% of the state in academic gains made by students. KIPP is committed to serving students in East Nashville with a community school that offers strong college preparatory education, a safe character-building culture for every single child and supports for students and families to and through college.

KIPP’s plan is a “phased conversion” for Kirkpatrick, which means they will begin by operating only Kindergarten and 1st grade next year. KIPP will then add an extra grade each year until they operate the entire school. This allows them to provide individual attention to students, get to know the community, and build a positive school culture. During this time of transition, MNPS would continue to manage the other grades and share the school with KIPP. This is called “co-location” and it means that if KIPP transforms Kirkpatrick, students in the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th grades next year will not be part of the KIPP school.

We want to know your opinions on the needs at Kirkpatrick. A parents’ meeting with KIPP’s leaders will be held at Kirkpatrick on Monday, December 15 at 4 p.m. School representatives will also be in your neighborhood in the coming weeks to talk with you personally.

Alan Coverstone                                                                Jesse Register
Executive Officer for Innovation                                          Director of Schools
Metro Schools                                                                   Metro Schools

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Kirkpatrick being considered for this transformation partnership with KIPP? Kirkpatrick has the highest need of all elementary schools in the district. Fewer than one in five children at Kirkpatrick are at grade level in math, reading and science. Teachers and parents have shared that their children need strong psychological supports and other wrap-around services. There is also a need for much stronger parent engagement so students come to school every day, stay in their school and have consistent educational support at home.

What does this mean for my child? Under this partnership, KIPP would operate kindergarten and first grade at Kirkpatrick starting in the 2015-16 school year. Metro Schools would operate grade 2-4, with one more grade going to KIPP each year until 2018-19. The district will also continue to operate the prekindergarten classes at Kirkpatrick. While KIPP operates lower grades, the upper grades at Kirkpatrick would also implement a full turnaround strategy. Metro Schools is committed to serving the 2nd – 4th grades in the school next year and until KIPP eventually serves the entire school. This helps families (for example, keeping siblings together and ensuring every zoned student still has access to the same neighborhood school) and gives the schools an opportunity to collaborate.

Is this a final decision? The Director of Schools is ready to recommend Kirkpatrick for a KIPP partnership. It is the highest need school and fits well with the KIPP model. A final decision will be made once there has been additional communication and engagement with parents.

Will students be offered any other school choices? Yes, and Metro Schools will work to make sure parents are fully informed of the school options available to them. Families can choose from a number of schools in the community, like:

  • KIPP at Kirkpatrick in grades K-1;
  • Kirkpatrick Elementary in grades 2-4;
  • Explore Community School in grades K-1;
  • Lockeland Elementary School, with transportation provided by MNPS (available to those who apply through the school selection process);
  • Rosebank Elementary School, with transportation provided by MNPS; and more.

District staff will make personal contact with each family to make sure they understand their options and can make an active choice of which school they want to attend.

What can you tell me about KIPP? KIPP is a respected local public charter operator and its two neighborhood schools in Nashville have great results. They just opened their third school, a high school, this school year. Families are encouraged to visit the website,, attend the upcoming parent meeting, and take a tour of KIPP schools. KIPP representatives will be visiting homes in the coming weeks to talk with families and schedule tours.

What comes next?

  • Parent meeting at Kirkpatrick, December 15 at 4pm
  • Parent survey distributed on December 16
  • Tours for Kirkpatrick parents of KIPP’s other two schools in December and January
  • Home visits from a school representative