MNPS board reviews charter school applications - WSMV News 4

MNPS board reviews charter school applications

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Charter schools are often touted as good options to the public school system, but Metro Nashville Public Schools have turned down eight charter schools looking to open across the city.

Great Hearts Academy, a company based in Arizona, scored high in many of the categories the reviewers said are important. But the school board thought there were still too many unanswered questions about whether the school would have a diverse population.

Dozens of people crowded into the school board meeting Tuesday, many of whom hoping Metro would authorize new charter schools for their children. The board said yes to two but said no to eight others, including Great Hearts Academy.

"I'm disappointed. I was hoping for a different outcome," said parent Bridgette Butler.

Bridgette and Adam Butler have two boys, ages 3 and 6. The Butlers said they liked the curriculum Great Hearts wants to offer in Nashville - an education based on classic literature.

"We did a lot of research on the school system. We think that they have excellent outcomes. And I'm just a big fan of choice," Adam Butler said.

One issue against Great Hearts is that it hasn't named a location yet, though the first school is expected to be in west Nashville.

After the meeting, Metro Schools Director Dr. Jesse Register said the school system is already in court over diversity issues, and Great Hearts isn't saying how it plans to attract a diverse population without offering transportation.

That means it would be hard for students from disadvantaged neighborhoods to get to the school.

Register said he is leery of approving a charter school without a real plan for diversity.

Some board members also expressed concern whether charter schools are actually better at educating children. Board member Mark North moved to deny an application from KIPP Academy to open an additional school because its 2010-11 test scores were so low.

"These science and social studies scores are not average, not mediocre, it's awful," North said.

Leaders for charter schools that were denied by the board can appeal the decision.

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