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, www.kippnashville.org, 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

Dr. Register identifies Kirkpatrick Elementary School for KIPP partnership

MNPS-KIPP collaboration would improve opportunities and outcomes

Director of Schools Dr. Jesse Register today identified Kirkpatrick Elementary School for a turnaround partnership with charter operator KIPP Nashville starting in the 2015-16 school year.

Today’s announcement comes after careful analysis of many factors including data, instructional observations, student needs and parent and faculty input. The thorough assessment led to the identification of Kirkpatrick as the elementary school in East Nashville with the greatest need for the type of transformational model offered by KIPP, which is a high-performing public charter network in Nashville.

“We have the opportunity to give students in a chronically low-performing school access to a proven, highly-effective school model,” Dr. Register said. “This is the right school for a KIPP partnership. Kirkpatrick is a high-need school with unique challenges. The proven skills and strategies KIPP brings to the table match well with Kirkpatrick’s needs. They can have a greater impact and make more of a difference here than at other high-need schools in the area. We are grateful to have such a willing and capable partner join us in giving more high quality educational opportunities to children in this community.”

In June of this year, the Board of Education approved a charter with KIPP to partner with Metro Schools to improve a consistently low-performing Metro elementary school and asked Dr. Register to select the school. Parents and faculty were notified today that Kirkpatrick has been identified as the preferred school for a KIPP partnership. District administration and local leadership of KIPP will work closely with parents and faculty over the next several weeks to develop a partnership plan to best serve the needs of the students and families of Kirkpatrick.

Under this partnership, KIPP and Metro Schools would collaborate to improve outcomes for all children in all grades at Kirkpatrick. KIPP would operate kindergarten and first grade starting next August. Second through fourth grades would remain under operation by Metro Schools in 2015-16, with one additional grade going to KIPP each year through 2018-19. All students in all grades who currently attend Kirkpatrick will still be guaranteed a spot at the Kirkpatrick campus.

A similar partnership model was completed last year at Cameron Middle School, now Cameron College Prep, which is operated by LEAD Public Schools. That partnership led to both the charter school at Cameron and the grades remaining in the traditional school being named Reward Schools last year by the Tennessee Department of Education.

KIPP is a national charter organization that currently operates two middle schools and one high school in Nashville. KIPP Nashville schools are consistently rated among the highest performing in Nashville, earning the “Excelling” label on the district’s Academic Performance Framework (APF). 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, ranked in the top 10 percent of the state in academic gains made by students. The school was also recently named a finalist for the 2014 SCORE Prize.

“Even though this model of starting a school is new to us, the fundamentals of what KIPP Nashville brings to the table are a great fit for Kirkpatrick,” said Randy Dowell, executive director of KIPP Nashville. “There is fertile ground for big improvements at this school. Strong academics, a focus on each student’s well-being and building young minds to prepare them for college: that’s what we’re about and what we can offer to Kirkpatrick families. We are prepared to support the community any way we can.”

Kirkpatrick Elementary has the greatest need of all schools eligible for a partnership with KIPP. It is the lowest scoring elementary school in East Nashville on the district’s Academic Performance Framework and had steep declines in academic achievement over the last three years.

In analyzing data, observing the school and speaking with teachers and families, a few of the biggest needs at Kirkpatrick were identified as:

  • fewer than one in five students are at grade level in reading, math and science;
  • students need comprehensive wrap-around services including psychological supports and resources to combat concentrated poverty in the area; and
  • the school needs strong parent engagement to keep children in school and help families support educational opportunities at home.

KIPP is well equipped to address the needs at Kirkpatrick through its whole-child and an instructional model that places equal importance on academics and social and emotional development. The KIPP school at Kirkpatrick would strive for high growth and overall achievement while giving students a well-rounded education. Instruction would focus on individualized learning with two teachers in core classrooms, daily small group instruction in reading and math, evidence-based curriculum and interventions and full offerings for art, music and extra-curricular activities. There would also be a full-time mental health counselor at the school, as well as special education teachers to support students in every grade.

Amy Galloway would serve as school leader for the KIPP grades at Kirkpatrick. Dowell personally chose her for this position after a rigorous selection process. She is in her 9th year with the KIPP network and has been an elementary assistant principal and School Leader. She also completed the Fisher Fellowship program, an intensive, one-year KIPP leadership program to develop founders and leaders of new schools. She has a bachelor’s degree in Communication Arts from Penn State and a Masters in Education, with special education certification, from Chestnut Hill College. She most recently served as co-leader of KIPP Philadelphia Elementary.

“I am ready to dive into a partnership with the students, families and faculty at Kirkpatrick,” said Galloway. “Our goal is to work with school leadership so we can build on the foundation already in place. The teachers have developed strong relationships with families and the school has deep roots in the community. We want to respect that and build on it so we can give every child in the community a high-quality education.”

Outreach to Kirkpatrick families continues with a callout today informing them of the planned partnership with KIPP. Letters explaining the partnership in greater detail will go home tomorrow in student backpacks. The letter will also invite parents to a meeting on Monday, Dec. 15 where district, school and KIPP leaders will speak with parents and answer their questions about what this transition could mean for their children. A survey will be mailed home to all families zoned for Kirkpatrick on Tuesday, Dec. 16. This survey will collect input on how a KIPP turnaround partnership can best serve all students and families. These additional communications and opportunities for engagement will take place prior to a final decision being made.

Parents will also be fully informed of the school options available to them. They 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.

Tours of other KIPP schools will be available in December and January so families can make informed choices about what school would best serve their children.

Metro Schools receives nine charter school applications in 2014

Metro Nashville Public Schools received nine applications for charter schools to open in the fall of 2015 by the April 1, 2014, deadline. Three applications propose expanding schools currently operating; three propose replicating school models approved by the Board of Education last year and three are from new school operators.

“This is the next important step in the process,” said Alan Coverstone, who leads the Innovation Office that manages charter school authorizing for Metro Schools. “Later this week, application review committees will begin examining each proposal.”

The district’s work to professionalize charter school authorizing and oversight since 2009 has borne fruit as the district has granted charters to several academically high-performing schools that serve diverse student bodies.

Review teams are organized and trained according to the Principles and Standards of high-quality authorizing articulated by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA).

“We will only recommend approval of strong schools that serve the best interests of the students of Davidson County,” said Coverstone.

A thorough review of each application against a detailed scoring rubric is the first step in the evaluation. Each proposal is examined for its capacity to provide an exemplary educational program, strong operational capacity, and long-term financial viability. The final evaluation includes an interview with each applicant group and an evaluation against Board-articulated priorities, including academic excellence and diversity, school conversion and student growth management. Recommendations will be delivered to the School Board in late July.

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

Applications now under review are:

  • The International Academy of Excellence – Proposed to serve K-4 beginning with kindergarten and 110 students, reaching 550 at capacity.
  • KIPP Academy Nashville Elementary School (KANES) – Proposed as a phased conversion of a target school to serve grades K-4, beginning with K-1 and growing one grade per year.
  • Knowledge Academy High – Proposed to serve grades 9-12, beginning with grade 9 and 105 students, building out 420 students at capacity.
  • Rocketship – Proposed Rocketship schools would serve PK – 4, opening with 475 students in PK-4 and at capacity serve 575. One application is for a new school in South Nashville and a second would convert management of a target school.
  • STEM Prep – Proposed to serve grades 9-12, beginning with grade 9 and 100 students, serving 400 at capacity.
  • STRIVE Collegiate Academy – Proposed middle school serving grades 5-8, opening with grade 5 and 115 students, reaching a capacity of 460 in grades 5-8.
  • The Tracey Darnell Agricultural Science and Technology Academy – Proposed high school to begin with grade 9, 40 students and at capacity serve 400 students in grades 9-12.
  • Valor Collegiate Academy Southeast – Proposed K-8 replication of Valor Collegiate and modeled after Summit Prep to serve families in southeast Nashville.  At capacity would serve 975 students.

Nine letters of intent to apply to open charter schools in Nashville

Nine charter school operators submitted initial Letters of Intent to apply for charters to operate schools beginning in the Fall of 2015. Four of the letters represent expansions of schools currently operating in Nashville and earning ratings of Achieving or Excelling on the MNPS Academic Performance Framework in 2013. Two letters represent expansions of nationally successful school models approved by the School Board last year. Three letters are from new school operators.

“This is a very early step in the process,” said Alan Coverstone, who heads the Innovation Office which manages charter school authorizing for MNPS. “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, 2014.”

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 1st, 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.

Submission of letters of intent to apply to open charter schools gives the Office of Innovation two months 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 1st also provides opportunity for potential applicants to consider, develop, and adapt plans in order to strengthen their potential applications and adapt their plans to best serve the articulated needs of MNPS students.

Read the 2014 Letters of Intent to Open a Charter School in MNPS

Of the nine filed, six propose replications of programs previously approved for operation in Nashville:

  • KIPP Academy Nashville Elementary School (KANES) – Proposed to serve grades K-4, beginning with K-1at 192 students and serving 480 students at capacity, growing one grade per year.
  • Knowledge Academy High – Proposed to serve grades 9-12, beginning with grade 9 and 105 students, building out 420 students at capacity.
  • RePublic Middle School – Proposed replication of Liberty Collegiate Academy, to serve Glencliff and Antioch clusters, grades 5-8, beginning with grade 5 and 110 students, building out to a capacity of 440 in grade 8.
  • Rocketship – Proposed Rocketship school would serve PK – 4, opening with 475 students in PK-4 and at capacity serve 575.
  • STEM Prep – Proposed to serve grades 9-12, beginning with grade 9 and 100 students, serving 400 at capacity.
  • Valor Collegiate Academy Southeast – Proposed K-8 replication of Valor Collegiate and modeled after Summit Prep to serve families in southeast Nashville, grades 5-6 and 260 students beginning K-1 in year 2.  At capacity would serve 975 students.

The remaining three schools are:

  • The International Academy of Excellence – Proposed to serve K-4 in the Glencliff and Antioch clusters, beginning with kindergarten and 110 students, reaching 550 at capacity.
  • The Tracey Darnell Agricultural Science and Technology Academy – Proposed high school to begin with grade 9, 40 students and at capacity serve 400 students in grades 9-12.
  • STRIVE Collegiate Academy – Proposed middle school serving grades 5-8, opening with grade 5 and 115 students, reaching a capacity of 460 in grades 5-8.

Six applications to open charter schools in 2014-15

UPDATE: The Board of Education is scheduled to hear recommendations and take action on these six applications at its June 25 meeting. This meeting will be covered on the district live-blog, which you can watch on MNPS.org.


The charter school applications for the 2013 cycle are in and under review.

Out of ten letters of intent, we received six full applications to be considered for charters. Three review teams are now poring over two applications each, with interviews and recommendations to follow.

The applications came in on April 1, and we have 90 days for review, recommendations to the Board of Education and final approval or denial by the Board.

Here is the timeline for moving forward:

  • May 7 – All applicants come in for interviews with the application review teams
  • Mid-May – Plans are yet to be finalized for a specific date, but there will be a time for public comment on applicants before the Board
  • Mid-May – A round of cuts is made, with select applicants moving forward toward recommendation. Other applicants that do not make the cut will not be recommended for approval.
  • May 28 – Selected applicants come in for second round interviews.
  • Early June – Review teams will submit reports to officials from the Office of Innovation, who will prepare final recommendations for the Board
  • Late June – Recommendations are made to the Board of Education for approval or denial of charters (June 25 at the latest)

Why did we receive only six applications from ten letters of intent? One school did not make the final deadline, another withdrew its application so it could have more time to put it together and two more did not complete all elements of the application as legally required by the State of Tennessee.

Our teams are excited to be digging into these applications, and I know we’re all looking forward to seeing what comes of them.

View the Applications:

Four big reasons behind our budget increase

It’s that time again. Budget time.

Work on the 2013-14 Metro Schools operating budget has been going on for months. Department heads and officials from the district business office have been going through budgets line item-by-line item, looking at each expense and its purpose in fulfilling our mission.

A draft of the budget is ready and available for review online. It calls for $764 million in funding, an increase of nearly $44 million over this year.

What’s behind the increase?

  • Fixed & Unavoidable Costs
    As is the case every year, certain cost increases are unavoidable. Salaries, insurance and pensions cost more. Utilities cost more. Just like in your family’s budget, inflation means it takes more money to provide the same services year over year.
  • Serving More Students
    Our student population is going up, too. We’re one of the very few urban districts in the country with increasing enrollment. That means more teachers, more support staff and more services provided to them.
  • New Schools
    Then there are the new schools opening up next year. We will add four new charter schools to our district, with an added cost of $14 million attached to them, as well as the cost of planned enrollment increases at current charter schools. There’s a lot of debate about charter schools, but what isn’t debatable is the impact they have on the district budget. In 2013-14, $40 million will flow directly to 19 charter schools. Because there are no comparable offsets to district expenses at traditional schools, that means sizeable increases to our operating budget.
  • Vital Technology Needs
    Our technology needs are more pressing now than in years past. Moving to the Common Core State Standards and the PARCC (Partnership for the Assessment of College and Career readiness) assessments means many students have to start taking tests online. This means our technology infrastructure must get the upgrades it needs. We need the computers and internet backbone to allow thousands of students to take these computerized tests simultaneously.

Those four items make up the bulk of the budget increase. There aren’t a lot of major new programs or initiatives included. But there are needs in our Nashville schools that cannot be met without added funds.

Join the Board of Education for a public hearing on this budget on Tuesday, April 2, at 6:00 p.m. in the Board Room.

Board Chair Cheryl Mayes invites Commissioner Kevin Huffman to discuss HB702

Board Chair Cheryl Mayes has called a special School Board meeting to discuss House Bill 702 that would overhaul the State’s charter schools appeals process and the proposed amendment to restrict this legislation to five counties. A motion will be made to suspend the rules so appropriate actions may be taken by the Board.

Department of Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman has been invited.

Watch the meeting live-blog on Monday, April 1, at 3:30 p.m.

Dear Commissioner Huffman:

On behalf of the Metropolitan Nashville Board of Public Education, I am writing to invite you to join members of the school board, the Metro Council and the Davidson County legislative delegation for a specially called meeting on Monday, April 1, at 3:30 p.m. to discuss House Bill 702, which would overhaul the state’s charter schools appeals process. This meeting will be held in the Board Room at Metro Nashville Public Schools, 2601 Bransford Avenue.

After working in good faith for weeks to reach a consensus with House Speaker Beth Harwell and representatives from the Tennessee Charter Schools Association and the Tennessee School Boards Association, we were surprised to hear of your last minute objections to the fiscal reassurances we requested. We believe the legislation, as amended in the House Budget Subcommittee, poses significant fiscal risks for Metro Nashville Public Schools and Davidson County taxpayers. Moreover, the bill appears to be constitutionally suspect due to the fact that it is drawn narrowly to focus only on the school districts in Nashville and Memphis.

In the spirit of collaboration, we would like to meet for an open and unvarnished conversation in hope of resolving our differences over this legislation and moving forward for the benefit of Nashville’s students and families. Please let me know if you are able to join us for a discussion about House Bill 702 and its impact on our $720 million operating budget, which accounts for 42 percent of the total Metro government budget.

Earlier this week, Governor Haslam noted that he is seeking fiscal assurances from the federal government in order to prevent Medicaid expansion from bankrupting Tennessee’s budget. MNPS is simply asking for the same kind of assurances to keep the proposed state charter appeals process from destabilizing our local budget. We know you agree that a stable, predictable appeals process is in everyone’s best interest – including prospective charter operators as well as existing charter schools and traditional schools that could be affected by this measure.

Thank you for your consideration. We hope to see you Monday afternoon.

Sincerely,

Cheryl D. Mayes, Chair
Metropolitan Nashville Board of Public Education