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.

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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.

What can Alan Coverstone learn about school culture from elementary students?

by Gay Burden, Manager of Innovation Design

We’ve heard it repeatedly: Students want more voice in school decisions and policy. And as we work to speed up our progress and improvements, they will definitely be heard.

Our partners at Tribal Education were the latest to bring this to our attention as they reviewed 34 of our low performing schools. They spoke extensively with students, teachers, and parents to find out what each group needs and what will help our schools serve them better.

As we looked over their reports and wrote up plans for improvement, Alan’s Lunch Bunch was born. This is a venue to give students a greater voice in their schools. Alan Coverstone, Executive Director of Innovation, sits down with a group of randomly selected students at one of our schools from the Innovation Cluster just to talk about how things are going.

So what would students do with a magic wand to create a perfect school? Every Lunch Bunch goes in a different direction. Sometimes they talk about changes to instruction, other times they talk about changes in the school culture.

This week at Napier Enhanced Option Elementary School students talked about their principal, their goals this year and what they would do if they were principal for a day.

Here are just a few things the students shared with Alan:

  • “He (Dr. Ronald Powe) is nice to us and helps us when we need it so we can learn more so we can grow up to be like him and be a principal.”
  • “When others put us down, he picks us up.”
  • “My goal is to make graduation.”
  • “My sight words are so easy, now I am ready to read real books.”
  • “If I were principal, I would compliment all of the teachers because they help all of us do the best.”

Alan learns quite a bit about the culture from each Lunch bunch.  At Napier Elementary, Alan was struck by the strong and growing relationships between the adults and students.

“It was fun to see the students excited about their school and learning,” he said, “particularly the admiration the students, teachers and staff have for the principal. Dr. Powe does a great job at making everyone feel they are contributing to the success of Napier.”

Interviewing students to get ideas about what is working or not working in a school is a great way to learn their perspectives. It is also a great way to generate ideas for new strategies or fresh approaches to initiatives focused on student learning. Ultimately, the Lunch Bunch is about building a positive community culture in our schools.

Pictures from Alan’s lunch at Napier Elementary: