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.
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.